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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: January 2010

9 - The evolution of global development paradigms and their influence on African economic growth


Introduction: growth syndromes and ideas

A key feature of the African growth experience is that it is predominantly episodic and that these episodes are largely driven by policy choices. A key question of interest for this chapter is what explains these policy choices. Many of the case studies in the AERC Growth Project adopt an interest-based neoclassical political-economy framework to explain the policy choices that have impacted the episodic growth performance. This chapter complements such analyses by exploring how global ideas influenced policy choices and hence growth syndromes. The argument is that global ideas have had a powerful role in shaping the growth environment in African countries. They have influenced the ideological and technical content of chosen development strategies; standards of peer review, peer pressure, and performance assessment; and the levels and character of official development assistance (ODA). The development paradigms have been shaped, in turn, by the dominant ideologies of the time; the evolving frontier of development economics in response to actual experience; and the changing attitudes towards the roles of the market, state, private sector, institutions, and political regimes.

A key theme of this chapter is how the influence of global ideas and development paradigms is mediated through human agency, particularly leaders, but also through interaction between governments and aid agencies in shaping these attitudes, and through interaction between world and local societal values.

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