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Institutions Count: Their Role and Significance in Latin American Development

Alejandro Portes
Lori D. Smith
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 220
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppw37
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  • Book Info
    Institutions Count
    Book Description:

    What leads to national progress? The growing consensus in the social sciences is that neither capital flows, nor the savings rate, nor diffuse values are the key, but that it lies in the quality of a nation’s institutions. This book is the first comparative study of how real institutions affect national development. It seeks to examine and deepen this insight through a systematic study of institutions in five Latin American countries and how they differ within and across nations. Postal systems, stock exchanges, public health services and others were included in the sample, all studied with the same methodology. The country chapters present detailed results of this empirical exercise for each individual country. The introductory chapters present the theoretical framework and research methodology for the full study. The summary results of this ambitious study presented in the concluding chapter draw comparisons across countries and discuss what these results mean for national development in Latin America.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95406-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    A. P. and L. D. S.
  6. 1 Institutions and Development: A Conceptual Reanalysis
    (pp. 1-23)
    Alejandro Portes

    Recent years have brought a significant change in the evolution of economics and sociology, including an unexpected convergence in their approach to issues like firms and economic development. This convergence has pivoted around the concept of “institutions,” a familiar term in sociology and social anthropology but something of a revolution in economics, dominated so far by the neoclassical paradigm. This development has been accompanied by confusion about what the new master term means and, importantly, by a failure to mine prior theoretical work that sought to order, classify, and relate the multiple aspects of social life that are now brought...

  7. 2 The Comparative Study of Institutions: The “Institutional Turn” in Development Studies: A Review
    (pp. 24-38)
    Alejandro Portes and Lori D. Smith

    North’s pronouncements concerning the role of institutions on development were followed by a series of studies, historical and contemporary, on the role of various social forces, collectively lumped under the rubric “institutions.” Among the most influential was the study by Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson (2003) that focused on the path dependence of institutions created by Europeans in their areas of concentration. Colonies where Europeans created permanent settlements developed solid institutional frameworks copied from the mother countries, which, in turn, created the basis for sustained economic development. Aware of the perennial endogeneity problem between institutions and development, Acemoglu and colleagues instrumented...

  8. 3 Institutional Change and Development in Argentina
    (pp. 39-59)
    Alejandro Grimson, Ana Castellani and Alexandre Roig

    For a number of authors, Argentina is an example of a peculiar failure in development. Using diverse indicators, its ranking among Latin American nations in the early twentieth century is frequently compared with its position in the early twenty-first century in order to illustrate a process of relative decline. The disparity between the country’s potential (not only its natural resources but also the educational level of its population) and present-day reality has given rise to an abundant bibliography that delves into Argentine history and the country’s development process, singling out diverse factors to account for this relative decline. The economic...

  9. 4 Institutional Change and Development in Chilean Market Society
    (pp. 60-84)
    Guillermo Wormald and Daniel Brieba

    This chapter’s main thesis is that Chile’s developmental performance of recent decades was underpinned by significant and systematic institutional change and that this change is closely related to its transformation from a state-centered society to a market-centered one. The analysis focuses on the changing process in a set of institutions highly relevant for economic growth and social redistribution. In this regard, our interest is to specify the mechanisms that account for continuity and discontinuity in institutional structure, which according to some relevant authors is an important target of economic sociology (Nee and Swedberg 2005). In addition, we discuss the impact...

  10. 5 The Colombian Paradox: A Thick Institutionalist Analysis
    (pp. 85-112)
    César Rodríguez-Garavito

    Fifteen years after leaving Colombia, where he lived between 1952 and 1956, Albert O. Hirschman published a devastating review of a book on Colombian politics and institutions, written by a young American scholar, James Payne. In the review, included inA Bias for Hope,Hirschman lashes out against the thesis of the book (Payne 1968), which he summarizes:

    In plain language, occasionally used by the author, Colombian politicians are exceedingly demagogic—interested exclusively in increasing their own power, always ready to betray yesterday’s friends and allies, and, to top it all, incapable of having friendly personal relations with anyone because...

  11. 6 Development Opportunities: Politics, the State, and Institutions in the Dominican Republic in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 113-129)
    Wilfredo Lozano

    This chapter summarizes the principal findings of the studies on institutions and development in the Dominican Republic. In the Dominican case, the institutions studied were civil aviation, the postal service, the public health system, and the internal taxation system.¹ In addition to being exposed to the currents of global changes, the institutions under consideration represent fundamental axes for national development. Thus civil aviation is key to the articulation of the country with the global economy, internal taxes define the potential for the generation of financial capacity for development of the national economy, and the health institutions are a cornerstone of...

  12. 7 The Uneven and Paradoxical Development of Mexico’s Institutions
    (pp. 130-166)
    José Luis Velasco

    Among developing countries, Mexico seems quite rich. With a per capita income of almost $10,000, it is close to the top of the upper-middle income category, as defined by the World Bank. Its total output makes it the world’s fourteenth economy (World Bank 2010). Moreover, its political system was stable for most of the twentieth century, which facilitated the establishment and consolidation of its institutions. The economic and political transformations of the late twentieth century brought new members to this institutional apparatus, some of them notably efficient and legitimate. To this, one should add the effects of the North American...

  13. 8 Conclusion: The Comparative Analysis of the Role of Institutions in National Development
    (pp. 167-190)
    Alejandro Portes and Lori D. Smith

    Having examined in detail the character and role of institutions in each of the countries included in our study, we turn now to a systematic analysis of this evidence. For this purpose, we turn to the QCA methodology described in chapter 2 for analysis of the two outcomes of interest: (I) Institutional Adequacy, or the extent to which really existing organizations correspond to their original institutional blueprints; and (II) Contribution to Development, or the extent to which each organization makes a contribution to the socioeconomic development of the nation in its sphere of activity. Results of this analysis, based on...

  14. APPENDIX: Investigators
    (pp. 191-192)
  15. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 193-194)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 195-206)