1. Name : M. Farhanul Enam
2. ID number : 542260
3. Programme degree title : MSc. Development Studies
4. Course name : Theory,
5. Course code : 15PDSC001
6. Tutor's name : Tim Pringle
7. Coursework number : 1 [ ] 2 [ ] or 3 [ ]
8. Title of essay : ‘State-led development is violent and authoritarian in
State-led development defined: 3
Countries like Kuwait and Qatar dictates the wealth distribution earned from oil towards elite and worker
classes who derive well being out of it. 5
M Farhanul Enam World Count: Page 2 of 7
‘State-led development is violent and authoritarian in
State led development came into being in early postwar period when many countries were taken by
sudden shock of decolonization along with war affected economy. This had led the new regimes opt for
a quick and systemic recovery with respect to sustaining sovereignty and economic development
The role and consequences of state-led development became clearer by the end of post war economic
boom in 1970s. Evidence of practice was widely observed in East and South East Asian countries such as
China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Indonesia
after World War II (Wikipedia, 2011).
The essay examines the nature and role of state led development through analyzing the regimes and
economies in the countries where it was adopted and then makes a concluding remark based on the
However, the paper attempts to prove that state-led development is inherently authoritarian and
violent in nature.
The paper is organized in 4 parts. 1) Defining the major key terms ‘state-led’ and ‘development’, 2)
Analyzing the historical evolution and practices 3) Discuss findings based on the analysis and finally 4)
State-led development defined:
The term ‘state-led’ is self explanatory and refers to an approach where a legitimate sovereign state (as
opposed to Imperialism and Fascism) through a Government becomes instrumental in
leading/developing an economy for a nation.
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The term ‘development’ here refers to the uplifting of the living standard (socio-economic) of different
classes of a society from which they derive happiness and well being. This may vary as per the Maslow’s
need hierarchy. Some may require basic physiological support while some may seek social and security.
The role of the government is to build an atmosphere where people can get access to fulfil their
Therefore, State-led development refers to an interventionist approach where the Government leads
and/or intervenes directly in the economy to ensure protection of local resources/people through a set
of pre determined norms that might be violent and authoritarian in nature. Ha-Joon Chang stated that
‘economic development requires a state which can create and regulate the economic and political
relationships that can support sustained industrialisation – or in short, a developmental state’ (Chang
1999: 183 cited in Bolesta). Major characteristics of a state-led economy or a developmental state are:
Prioritization of economic growth over political reform
Economic nationalism, Protectionism and Import Substitution
Focus on foreign technology transfer
Analyzing the historical evolution and practices
History of authoritarian regimes is evident from the time of communism. Example would include but not
limited to “Guatemala after 1954, Cuba in the 1950's under Bautista, Iran under the Shah in 1952, Zaire
under Mobutu, the Philippines under Marcos, Indonesia in 1968 under Suharto, South Korea under
Syngman Rhee, the entire history of South Vietnam, and Central America from the 1930's to the 1980's”
However, with the vestiges of colonialism and emergence of reconstruction after World War II, many
states in Latin America, Asia and Africa started to adopt western capitalist approach to foster economic
M Farhanul Enam World Count: Page 4 of 7
growth by creating opportunities for investment and industrialization without allowing political
decentralization. Examples are Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, South Vietnam, and the Philippines in the
1950's and 1960's, Argentina in the 1970's and Chile in the 1980's.
However in course of time with the advent of modernization and dependency theory, the concept of
developmental state came out within authoritarian regimes.
Johnson (1999: 52) makes a critical distinction between typical authoritarian regime and a
developmental state. ‘In the true developmental state, […] the bureaucratic rulers possess a particular
kind of legitimacy that allows them to be much more experimental and undoctrinaire than in the typical
authoritarian regime’ (cited in Bolesta, 2007).
The first model of “developmental state” was demonstrated by Japan and soon became an emblem of
East Asia’s rapid economic expansion and distinctive approach to economic management. (Beeson, 2009)
In late 1980's Deng Xio-ping reformed China from being anti-capitalist to being more pro-capitalist.
Bolesta stated that “the communist legacy and a lack of democratic rules and procedures would suggest
that the state has all the means to intervene in every aspect of political, social and economic life. Indeed,
the Chinese state is perceived as interventionist”.
Evan (1989) reported that in Korea, the high status and autonomy historically accorded to the
bureaucracy that allowed the state to recruit members of traditional elites to its service and then
demand their allegiance to state goals rather than those of their own groups” (cited in BARKEY &
Countries like Kuwait and Qatar dictates the wealth distribution earned from oil towards elite and
worker classes who derive well being out of it.
Myanmar adopted a state-led development process in 1988 with the advent of Tatmadaw government
where military was involved in both political and economic affairs of state.
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Not only African and Asian countries but also “all of today’s rich countries have used protectionism for
substantial periods, except for the Netherlands and (until World War I) Switzerland" (Chang, 2008)
Onis (1991) mentioned that “Mexico, for example, is considered to be a prototype case of "state" or
"authoritarian" corporatism i n the context of a single party regime”.
O'Donnell (cited in BARKEY & PARIKH) stated that autonomy was practiced to deactivate and depoliticize
class conflicts to restore law and order to implement long-term economic and political changes. (Stepan
1978, Collier 1979, Stepan 1985, Barkey 1990 cited in BARKEY & PARIKH, 1992).
In light of the facts stated above, we can tell it that state-led development as observed in different parts
of the world are authoritarian by nature.
Tun (2011) reports that studying the developments of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, scholars like Chalmers
Johnson, Peter B. Evans, Atul Kohli, Ziya Onis, Mark Beeson, Gordon White, and Adrian Leftwich have
developed the theory of Development state through observing the development of the state under strong or
Implications and Performance of State-led Development
Given the nature of state-led development, many countries have managed to succeed and many failed.
Among those who failed were Argentina, Mexico, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Taiwan and Philippines. Their
strategy for import substitution did more harm to the ISI than to benefit. They thoroughly failed to take
advantage of comparative advantage in agricultural sector and remained obsessed with industrialization
at the cost of agricultural development. (Rapley, 2007:68). One of the major reasons state-led
development fail is because of poor relationship between state beurocracy and privately owned
business. (Johson,1999). Again despite rapid economic growth such countries remain undemocratic
because of coercive political power and limited freedom of entreprenueral practice. Financial systems
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are often state owned that discourage private investment and thus create opportunities for only
cohesive capitalist class. Such regimes also often lack broad popular support and rely on repression.
Another problem is that it practices capitalism with military precision such as in case of South Korea,
Myanmar, Indonesia etc. Because of rapid industrialization it also gives birth of huge middle class society
who in the long run become a burden on the government with respect to income distribution. Finally
due absence of free market economy, these countries face consistent pressure from outside world and
often fail to receive foreign aid to meet its budget deficit.
Among other problems arising from authoritarian state-led developments were underemployment,
production inefficiency, and corruption. Underdevelopment was caused by the rising middleclass
whereas production inefficiency resulted from uneven distribution of resources to firms and limited
rivalry from market forces. Corruption was always their due limited public-private partnership.
As democracy, rule of law, participation, human rights, market economy,
etc., become the widely accepted norms in the political system of a
country, scholars examine whether the DS, which is a form of a strong state,
is still an option for states to embrace in order to drive their development
(Hayashi 2010: 45). However, there are still evidences of state-led development
processes in the world today in countries such as China, Singapore,
Malaysia, Vietnam, etc., and the evidence in these countries shows that the
state still has a vital role in guiding and maintaining required actions to sustain
, only when embeddedness and autonomy are joined together can a state be
called developmental” and he asserts that “only the ascension to power of a
group with strong ideological convictions and close personal and organizational
ties enables the state to regain its autonomy” (Evans 1995: 12, 52).
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