Embedded Autonomy

Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation

Peter Evans
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 336
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Embedded Autonomy
    Book Description:

    In recent years, debate on the state's economic role has too often devolved into diatribes against intervention. Peter Evans questions such simplistic views, offering a new vision of why state involvement works in some cases and produces disasters in others. To illustrate, he looks at how state agencies, local entrepreneurs, and transnational corporations shaped the emergence of computer industries in Brazil, India, and Korea during the seventies and eighties.

    Evans starts with the idea that states vary in the way they are organized and tied to society. In some nations, like Zaire, the state is predatory, ruthlessly extracting and providing nothing of value in return. In others, like Korea, it is developmental, promoting industrial transformation. In still others, like Brazil and India, it is in between, sometimes helping, sometimes hindering. Evans's years of comparative research on the successes and failures of state involvement in the process of industrialization have here been crafted into a persuasive and entertaining work, which demonstrates that successful state action requires an understanding of its own limits, a realistic relationship to the global economy, and the combination of coherent internal organization and close links to society that Evans called "embedded autonomy."

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2172-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. 1 States and Industrial Transformation
    (pp. 3-20)

    A perennially popular Brazilian joke about two lions evokes one way of seeing the state. Escapees from the zoo, the two lions take different paths. One goes to a wooded park and is apprehended as soon as he gets hungry and eats a passerby. The second remains at large for months. Finally captured, he returns to the zoo sleek and fat. His companion inquires with great interest, “Where did you find such a great hiding place?” “In one of the ministries” is the successful escapee’s answer. “Every three days I ate a bureaucrat and no one noticed.” “So how did...

  7. 2. A Comparative Institutional Approach
    (pp. 21-42)

    In the fall of 1991, at the annual meeting of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund, Attila Karaosmanoglu, vice president and managing director of the World Bank, made a surprising statement. He said, “The East Asian NICs and their successful emulators are a powerful argument that a more activist, positive governmental role can be a decisive factor in rapid industrial growth. . . . What is replicable and transferable must be brought to light and shared with others.”¹

    What was surprising about Karaosmanoglu’s statement was not its content; the same point had been made before by a variety of social scientists...

  8. 3 States
    (pp. 43-73)

    In late 1978, a government tax collector was killed in Bandundu Province, Zaire. That people’s resentment against tax collection in Zaire should reach lethal levels is hardly surprising. The rapaciousness of the Zairian officialdom is legendary, and the state’s most visible representative, the army, “lives on the backs of the ordinary people” since “for some unknown reasons, the Mobutu regime has always been unable regularly to pay its forces” (Kabwit 1979, 394, 399).

    Once Joseph Mobutu Sese Seko gained control over Zaire in 1965, he and his coterie within the Zairian state apparatus systematically looted Zaire’s vast deposits of copper,...

  9. 4 Roles and Sectors
    (pp. 74-98)

    Kwangyang bay, on Korea’s southeast coast, is not a traditional tourist attraction, but it does draw foreign visitors. They come to see a steel plant, acknowledged by industry experts to be unique in the world.¹ With 250 tons per charge BOF converters, a 2.7-million-ton continuous caster directly connected to the hot strip mill, and computerized process controls throughout, the Kwangyang plant is a steel engineer’s dream (D’Costa 1989, 40– 43). Kwangyang also fulfills Korea’s aspirations to become a major power in the world steel industry, aspirations that took shape two decades earlier with the formation of the Pohang Iron and...

  10. 5 Promotion and Policing
    (pp. 99-127)

    At the end of World War II, Britain, the home of Alan Turing and other pioneers of computer science, had a comparative advantage in the computer industry as great as that of any country in the world except for the United States. In fact, according to Kenneth Flamm (1987, 159), “In 1950 British computer technology matched or surpassed that of the United States in many respects.”

    Forty years later, at the beginning of the 1990s, the last major British computer company, International Computers Limited (ICL), was purchased by Fujitsu, a company that in 1950 had been a small supplier of...

  11. 6 State Firms and High-Tech Husbandry
    (pp. 128-154)

    It was the middle of an April night in 1989 when the phone rang in Ivan da Costa Marques’s house in Rio de Janeiro, but he was happy to be dragged out of bed. The call was from Emeryville, California, and the news was good. A team of Brazilian software engineers from Costa Marques’s company, Computadores e Sistemas Brasileiros SA (COBRA), was in Emeryville trying to make a point. They were trying to prove that they had designed, from scratch, a Brazilian clone of UNIX, an internationally standard operating system used around the world.

    Emeryville was the site of Unisoft,...

  12. 7 The Rise of Local Firms
    (pp. 155-180)

    If Simón R. Schvartzman had written his reminiscences at the end of the 1980s, they would have been about the pleasures of working as an engineer in the midst of an exciting period of technological change. They would also have been about the pleasures and frustrations of managing a Brazilian firm. They would also, by necessity, have been about the politics and economics of state involvement. By inclination, Schvartzman was no more interested in politics than the average citizen, but the course of his career could not help reflecting the evolution of Brazil’s informatics policy.

    Simón Schvartzman was exactly the...

  13. 8 The New Internationalization
    (pp. 181-206)

    A startling newcomer hit the Indian computer scene in the winter of 1992. Called Tata Information Systems Ltd. (TISL), the company was not just another extension of the Tatas’ flowering information technology empire. It was IBM. Fifteen years after refusing to stay in India unless it could have 100 percent ownership of its local operations, Big Blue was back.

    The reappearance of IBM had been predicted by industry experts for some time,¹ but its form was still surprising, especially to those who still remembered IBM’s earlier incarnation. TISL was not just a joint venture; it was a 50/50 joint venture,...

  14. 9 Lessons from Informatics
    (pp. 207-226)

    As the 1990s began, Mario Dias Ripper was looking for work again. He was no longer president of Elebra Computadores, the company he had helped put together in the early 1980s which joined the formidable Brazilian financial resources of the Bradesco and the Docas de Santos groups with the equally formidable technological clout of the DEC VAX. The rules had changed. DEC was allowed to become a part owner of Elebra and wanted to take a more direct managerial role. Ripper had decided he was too closely associated with the old informatics policy to fit in with the new venture....

  15. 10 Rethinking Embedded Autonomy
    (pp. 227-250)

    As the 1980s drew to a close, Seoul’s ultramodern subway system was one of Korea’s most prized pieces of new infrastructure, symbolic of the developmental state’s efficacy. In March 1989 the Seoul subway briefly became a different kind of symbol, a dramatic reminder that, along with infrastructure and new industrial prowess, the state had helped bring to life social forces that it could not always control.¹

    On March 16, six thousand subway workers went on strike, paralyzing Seoul’s new transportation system and turning the city’s morning rush hour into chaos. Three thousand workers occupied the round house from which subway...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 251-286)
  17. References
    (pp. 287-310)
  18. Index
    (pp. 311-323)