While on pause, we are posting commentary and new work by Marc Noland and Stephan Haggard on the Korean peninsula. Both of us cut our teeth on the political economy of the region, with Haggard's first book—Pathways from the Periphery—detailing the transition to export-led growth in the region and Latin America's continuing pursuit of import-substitution. I have recently published a short book on the concept of the "developmental state" for the new Cambridge Elements series; it is currently available for a limited time here as a pdf and can also be ordered in hard copy.
The concept of the developmental state emerged to explain the rapid growth of a number of countries in East Asia in the postwar period. Yet the developmental state literature also offered a theoretical approach to growth that was heterodox with respect to prevailing approaches in both economics and political science. Arguing for the distinctive features of developmental states, its proponents emphasized the role of government intervention and industrial policy as well as the significance of strong states and particular social coalitions. This literature blossomed into a wider approach, firmly planted in a much longer heterodox tradition, that explored comparisons with states that were decidedly not developmentalist, thus contributing to our historical understanding of long-run growth. This addition to the Element series provides a critical but sympathetic overview of this literature and ends with its revival and a look forward at the possibility for developmentalist approaches, both in the advanced and developing world.
Marc and I do not see eye-to-eye on these issues; I am more sympathetic to developmentalist arguments, while Marc wrote a more skeptical introduction to industrial policy with Howard Pack in 2003 that bears re-reading; it can be found here. Given the rise of China and its open and aggressive pursuit of industrial policies, the issues remain joined.