Scholars of development have learned a great deal about what economic
institutions do, but much less about the origins of such arrangements.
This article introduces and assesses a new political explanation for the
origins of “developmental states”—organizational
complexes in which expert and coherent bureaucratic agencies collaborate
with organized private sectors to spur national economic transformation.
Conventional wisdom holds that developmental states in South Korea,
Taiwan, and Singapore result from “state autonomy,” especially
from popular pressures. We argue that these states' impressive
capacities actually emerged from the challenges of delivering side
payments to restive popular sectors under conditions of extreme
geopolitical insecurity and severe resource constraints. Such an
interactive condition of “systemic vulnerability” never
confronted ruling elites in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, or
Thailand—allowing them to uphold political coalitions, and hence to
retain power, with much less ambitious state-building efforts.Authors listed alphabetically. We are grateful
to the following for helpful comments: Cliff Carrubba, Eric Hershberg,
Dave Kang, Stephan Haggard, Linda Lim, Greg Noble, Kristen Nordhaug, John
Ravenhill, Eric Reinhardt, Dani Reiter, Tom Remington, Michael Ross, Randy
Strahan, Judith Tendler, and two anonymous reviewers. Special thanks to
David Waldner, whose book inspired this article and who graciously
provided important insights.