Industrial structure, democratic transition and the transformation of the developmental state
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
We have learned a lot about on how the developmental state successfully engineered rapid economic growth in the post-war period and how the developmental state transformed as a result of the emergence of socioeconomic forces in the development process. However, scholars have generally overlooked a theoretical puzzle: Despite similar levels of economic development engineered by the state, why is it that there are both cross-case and within-case variations in the transformation of the developmental state? My thesis introduces a theory of ‘the dynamics of the developmental state’ to narrow this theoretical gap in studies of the developmental state. I argue that the variations in the transformation of the developmental state are primarily produced by two factors: industrial structure and democratic transition. Both factors are shaped by strategic calculations of ruling elites who built and run the developmental state. Using methods of comparative historical analysis, I test my arguments in three typical cases of the developmental state (i.e. South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan), which have exhibited significant divergence in the transformation process since the early 1980s.
The empirical evidence presented in this study offers strong support for my assertion. In the case of South Korea, where the strategic calculations of the ruling elites resulted in an industrial structure characterised by a high level of domestic private capital concentration (DPCC) and a rapid democratic transition carried out in 1987, the emergence of strong state policy constraints produced by a range of social actors (i.e., business elites, organised labour, and the middle class) led to a rapid transformation of the developmental state since the early 1990s. In contrast, in the case of Singapore, where the ruling elites’ strategic calculations resulted in an industrial structure characterised by a high level of FDI and SOE and an absence of a democratic transition, the transformation of the developmental state has not occurred because the state policy process has been largely immune from state policy constraints of social actors. The case of Taiwan offers further confirmation of my theory. Prior to 2000, when the strategic calculations of the ruling elites led to the formation of an industrial structure characterised by a low level of DPCC and a significantly slower process of democratic transition, a gradual transformation of the developmental state occurred as a result of the emergence of minor state policy constraints among business elites and the middle class. In the post-2000 period, the increase in the level of DPCC and the completion of the democratic transition led to the emergence of enormous state policy constraints, which eventually resulted in a rapid transformation of the developmental state in Taiwan.