There are three key literatures on the political economy of development that all emphasize the importance of institutions, but in different and somewhat contradictory ways. These literatures focus on developmental states, good governance, and political economic pathways. The developmental states literature is based largely on case studies of East Asian countries that have, since about 1950, largely “caught up” to the already developed nations in Europe, North America, and the Antipodes. The central conclusion of this literature has been that successful late development requires a competent, committed state bureaucracy, independent enough to be capable of imposing its will on domestic businesspeople, but also sufficiently connected to them so as to make good decisions about what will to impose. The literature focusing on good governance, based largely in economics, also sees state actions and characteristics as keys to positive development outcomes. But while the developmental states literature argues that states need to play an interventionist role in “governing” markets (including not infrequently restricting them), the good governance literature usually looks more favorably on free markets. Finally, research in the political economic pathways literature tends to examine much longer periods of time than the other two literatures, and typically emphasizes economic and political developmental outcomes as joint products of differences in the historical trajectories followed by different countries. The key explanatory variables for this literature are a country’s circumstances in the colonial period, and levels and types of social inequality.
M. Leann Brown
Sustainable development (SD) is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition is articulated in Our Common Future, a political manifesto published in 1987 by the United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). SD promises to resolve in a positive-sum manner the most daunting economic, environmental, political, and social challenges the world is currently facing. However, it has also become a much contested concept, mainly due to the comprehensiveness, ambiguity, and optimism inherent in its underlying assumptions. Ongoing debates within the literature deal with how to define, operationalize, and measure SD; how economic development and environmental protection are conceptualized as mutually supportive; how “nature” is treated in the literature; equity and overconsumption challenges to SD; and the governance, social learning, and normative transformations required to achieve SD. Reaching some consensus on definitions and operationalization of the multiple aspects of SD will lead to standards by which to assess development and environmental policies. Among the most urgent issues that must be addressed in future research are the roles and influence of the relatively new participants in governance, such as intergovernmental/nongovernmental organizations and corporations; the new modes of governance including public-private and private-private partnerships and network governance; and the impacts of implementing compatible and contradictory policies on the various levels and across policy areas.
Leondard E. Stanley and Ernesto Vivares
Development finance (DF) schemes in Latin America have shifted from neoliberal and conservative to neo-developmentalist and populist approaches with no effect on political, economic, social, and environmental circumstances. Regardless of the political-ideological bias of the ruling coalition, critical problems related to the contradictions imposed by the global insertion model have remained the same. The dynamics of ideas, institutions, and actors illustrate the DF network of power and legitimacy. The governance of DF is a contested historical process in which opposite ideas about development, supported by antagonistic groups, confront the political-economic orientations. Different governances are institutional devices that reflect diverse development ideas and specific political-economic settings. Regardless of the model, a generalized crisis questions financial globalization and advises a rethinking of the financing schemes.
Andrea C. Bianculli
The rise of regulation is perhaps one of the most critical transformations of the capitalist system. Not surprisingly, this development has triggered a surge in the interest in regulation in social and political sciences since the 1990s. A contested notion, regulation can denote different meanings and can be understood in different ways. Given this multiplicity of meanings, studying regulatory cooperation requires exploring some fundamental elements to understand the main concepts and approaches used, and to capture its multiple levels and dimensions. The adopted denominations and utilized concepts are many—“regional regulatory cooperation,” “regional regulatory regime,” “regional regulatory integration,” “regulatory regionalism,” and “regional regulatory governance,” among others—and each captures, in its own way, particular dimensions or aspects of the field. In terms of levels, whereas a rich and dense literature has attested to the fact that global governance increasingly proceeds through transnational regulations, studies with a focus on the regional level are scant, especially when compared to the former, and remain scattered under various labels and denominations. However, regulatory cooperation leads to the creation of regulatory spaces that blur the distinction not only between the national and global arenas, but also between the national and the regional. Studies have thus translated these theoretical claims into empirical research showing that there is a growing regulatory cooperation space at the regional level, where various constellations of actors and networks that bridge the state and nonstate, and public and private, distinctions operate across levels and policy sectors. Analyses and scholarship on regulation and regulatory cooperation have made relevant progress, and in so doing, they have opened new avenues for research to explore and understand the place and role of regulatory cooperation and regions in a complex regulatory world.
Africa has made significant progress at home and on the world stage that belies its image as the backwater of the global system. Far from being marginalized, African states have exercised their agency in the international system through an extensive mechanism of institutionalized diplomacy—anchored on the African Union (AU)—that they have forged over several decades of collective action. Changes are taking place in 21st-century Africa as a result of these collective efforts. Socioeconomic data from the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations, and the World Bank, indicate the economic, political, and demographic forces that are remaking Africa. Finally, the changes in Africa have implications for the evolving world order. Objective conditions warrant a reimagining of Africa as an agent in the international system, rather than as a passive victim of a predatory, anarchical order. Current challenges facing the post-war liberal international order make such reimagination imperative.