Prep Exercise Prompt for 10/18/18…

In the readings for Thursday, we begin to see the outlines of how neoliberally-minded reform projects and mandates actually played out in developing nations of the Global South. As our authors argue, there was often an appreciable gap between what neoliberal reformers promised and what they achieved. Your question, then, is why did IMF and World Bank-sanctioned (or imposed) reform projects rarely seem to work as they were supposed to?

Prep Exercise for 10/9/18…

In our readings for Tuesday, we see a number of explanations for and evaluations of the state-led development strategies pursued by developing nations in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.  For your prep exercise, briefly respond to the following two questions:

1) Briefly, what was the strategic logic behind the state-led development strategies (particularly ISI) promoted by most development economists and tried by most developing economies in the postwar era?

2) What were the political and economic consequences of state-led development in this era for most developing nations (especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America)?  Why, in the assessment of our authors, did state-led development fail?

Prep Exercise for 10/4/18…

Beginning with Thursday’s readings, we be begin a new unit. Having covered the necessary theoretical and general background, we’re turning now to the question of how specific kinds of development strategies adopted since the late 1940s or so have generally failed to create growth.

Andre Gunder Frank, a leading theorist of dependency theory

Your prompt: How do modernization and dependency theories view the problem of development differently? What policy solutions do they seem to propose, and do their solutions have anything in common?

Prep Exercise Prompt for 10/2/18…

In the first reading for Tuesday, Samuel Huntington provides both a concise definition for corruption and a brief narrative explaining why corruption is often common in developing areas (broadly defined, not by geography, but by economic station).  Meanwhile, all three papers we’re reading offer at least an implicit account of why corruption occurs in some times and places, and not others.

Samuel Huntington

For your response today, please consider the authors’ various positions in offering your own answer to the question–why does corruption occur in some places/times more than others? What is the “root cause” of corruption (or is there such a thing)?

Blog Prompt for 9/26/18…

How political structures, incentives, and institutions impact the long-term trajectories of developing countries? Having examined the impact of colonial rule on institutions of countries across the Global South, we now move to a broader consideration of how bad institutions and perverse incentives create challenges for development.

Thursday’s readings focus on one specific example of this issue, in the form of what is commonly called the “resource curse”–the paradox by which countries with significant natural resources often end up worse off than their less resource-wealthy neighbors. In particular, we focus on one specific resource (oil), and one example (Nigeria) to see how this process plays out in practice.

Thus, my question is this:

Why do countries that depend on natural resources like oil often struggle to govern and grow their economies, and why do they often end up with deeply dysfunctional political systems? Please provide at least two specific examples from the Nigerian case to illustrate your argument.

Blogging Prompt for 9/25/18…

In the readings for Tuesday, we explore the impact of colonialism and colonial rule on long-term trajectories of development. Although colonialism’s negative impact is widely (if not universally accepted), there is some disagreement on exactly how its legacy is best observed and explained. Drawing on the readings, please explain one specific pathway by which colonial rule has a persistent and negative effect on contemporary development.

Prep Exercise for 9/18/18…

In the selections for this class by Robert Bates, Walter Scheidel, and the US Department of Justice, we transition from our discussion (and critique) of the “standard” model of economic growth into a new topic, focusing on the economic and political origins of the modern state–the form of governmental organization that encapsulates nearly all of the territory on Earth today. If I have anything like a “theory” for this course, it’s that the histories of global economic development and global political development are linked, and with these three insightful takes on where political order comes from and how it operates, we can begin to consider why exactly certain forms of governmental organization might be better at improving human development than others.

Cardinal Richelieu, a classic “state-maker”

Thus, your prompt:

What is a “state” in the parlance of Bates, and under what conditions, do “modern” states emerge as the dominant form of political order?  In particular, pay close attention to the importance all three readings places on the role of violence in this process of “state formation.” How is it that something so rooted in violence, with its origins in little more than a large-scale “protection racket,” able to encourage economic growth and development, and under what conditions does that violence simply end up hurting the most vulnerable?

Blogging Prompt for 9/13/18…

Although our three authors might individually reject this framing of their work, all of them seem to me to be making arguments about the importance of luck, chance or good fortune in creating a pathway to large-scale development in Great Britain and Western Europe from the 1500s on. For Allen, the luck seems to come in with regard to the causes of high wages and the choice of export crops. For Mokyl, it’s the structure of European politics and culture that happens to be fortuitous in producing a trans-continental intellectual and scientific community. And for Pomeranz, it’s that the coal happened to be in Newcastle and not in Nanjing (and also that Britain had the good fortune to be able to easily colonize North America).

For your exercise, what I would like you to do is the consider the consequences of assuming that luck/good fortune played a key role in creating the Great Divergence for contemporary developing countries. If these three authors are right, what, if anything, can countries today learn from how Great Britain “took off”?


Prep Exercise for 9/11/18…

For Tuesday’s readings, we find ourselves further considering the origins of the “great divergence” in global economic growth and development. Having discussed the importance of “modern” states and state-making in driving economic development, we now turn to the question of why such states developed in some places and not others. In this pair of essays be famed geographer Jared Diamond,  historian David Landes, and economists Diego Comin et al, we consider the role of ostensibly “non-political” factors, particularly geography, demography, and culture, in development.

Your prompt:

What role do factors that people today can’t do much to change–cultural heritage, geographic endowment, and long-term history, for example–play in encouraging or preventing economic growth or development?  In other words, how powerful is the past in terms of shaping the future?  In your answer, you should specifically engage with whether or not you find the arguments advanced in these reading persuasive or not, and on what grounds.