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From Flying Geese To Leading Dragons: New Opportunities and Strategies for Structural Transformation in Developing Countries


  • Justin Yifu Lin


Economic development is a process of continuous industrial and technological upgrading in which any country, regardless of its level of development, can succeed if it develops industries that are consistent with its comparative advantage, determined by its endowment structure. The secret winning formula for developing countries is to exploit the latecomer advantage by building up industries that are growing dynamically in more advanced fast growing countries that have endowment structures similar to theirs. By following carefully selected lead countries, latecomers can emulate the leader-follower, flying-geese pattern that has served well successfully catching-up economies since the 18th century. The emergence of large middle-income countries such as China, India, and Brazil as new growth poles in the world, and their dynamic growth and climbing of the industrial ladder, offer an unprecedented opportunity to all developing economies with income levels currently below theirs --including those in Sub-Saharan Africa. Having itself been a"follower goose,"China is on the verge of graduating from low-skilled manufacturing jobs and becoming a"leading dragon."That will free up nearly 100 million labor-intensive manufacturing jobs, enough to more than quadruple manufacturing employment in low-income countries. A similar trend is emerging in other middle-income growth poles. The lower-income countries that can formulate and implement a viable strategy to capture this new industrialization opportunity will set forth on a dynamic path of structural change that can lead to poverty reduction and prosperity.
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Suggested Citation

  • Justin Yifu Lin, 2012. "From Flying Geese To Leading Dragons: New Opportunities and Strategies for Structural Transformation in Developing Countries," Global Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 3(4), pages 397-409, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:glopol:v:3:y:2012:i:4:p:397-409 DOI: j.1758-5899.2012.00172.x

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    1. Robert H. Wade, 2015. "Agenda Change in Western Development Organizations: From Hard Production to Soft, Timeless, Placeless Policy," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 20(Special E), pages 1-12, September.
    2. Kirkpatrick, Colin, 2012. "Economic Governance: Improving the Economic and Regulatory Environment for Supporting Private Sector Activity," WIDER Working Paper Series 108, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Iizuka, Michiko & Gebreeyesus, Mulu, 2012. "A systemic perspective in understanding the successful emergence of non-traditional exports: two cases from Africa and Latin America," MERIT Working Papers 052, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    4. Evelyn Dietsche, 2017. "New industrial policy and the extractive industries," WIDER Working Paper Series 161, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Bräutigam, Deborah & Tang, Xiaoyang, 2014. "“Going Global in Groups”: Structural Transformation and China’s Special Economic Zones Overseas," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 78-91.
    6. Girum Abebe, 2012. "Ownership, Management Practices, Upgrading, and Productivity in the Metalworking sector: Evidence from Ethiopia," Working Papers 009, Ethiopian Development Research Institute.
    7. Popov, V., 2015. "Can Uzbekistan Economy Retain Its High Growth Rate? Scenarios of Economic Development in 2015-2030," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 163-181.
    8. repec:phd:dpaper:dp_2014-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. van der Hoeven, Rolph, 2012. "Development Aid and Employment," WIDER Working Paper Series 107, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Gisselquist Rachel M., 2015. "State Capability and Prospects for Close Co-ordination: Considerations for Industrial Policy in Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 035, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. Justin Lin & Monga Célestin & Standaert Samuel, 2017. "Working Paper 257 - The Inclusive and Sustainable Transformation Index," Working Paper Series 2368, African Development Bank.
    12. Broich, T. & Szirmai, A., 2014. "China's economic embrace of Africa: An international comparative perspective," MERIT Working Papers 049, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    13. Robert Z. Lawrence, 2013. "Association of Southeast Asian Nations, People's Republic of China, and India Growth and the Rest of the World : The Role of Trade," Development Economics Working Papers 23409, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    14. Young Kevin, 2014. "The complex and covert web of financial protectionism," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 16(4), pages 1-35, December.
    15. Veerayooth Kanchoochat & Patarapong Intarakumnerd, 2014. "Tigers Trapped: Tracing the Middle-income Trap through the East and Southeast Asian Experience," Competence Centre on Money, Trade, Finance and Development 1404, Hochschule fuer Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin.
    16. Altug, Sumru & Tan, Barış & Gencer, Gözde, 2012. "Cyclical dynamics of industrial production and employment: Markov chain-based estimates and tests," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1534-1550.
    17. Aldaba, Rafaelita M., 2014. "The Philippine Manufacturing Industry Roadmap: Agenda for New Industrial Policy, High Productivity Jobs, and Inclusive Growth," Discussion Papers DP 2014-32, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
    18. Lin, Justin Yifu, 2016. "Will China continue to be the engine of growth in the world," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 683-692.
    19. Popov, Vladimir & Chowdhury, Anis, 2015. "What Uzbekistan tells us about industrial policy that we did not know?," MPRA Paper 67013, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2016. "The state, the market, and development," WIDER Working Paper Series 001, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    21. Addison, Tony & Singhal, Saurabh & Tarp, Finn, 2013. "Aid to Africa: The Changing Context," WIDER Working Paper Series 144, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    22. Venkatachalam Anbumozhi & Xianbin Yao, 2017. "Remaking Energy Policies for Global Sustainability: The Case of Flying Geese Model and Path Dependencies in East Asia," Working Papers DP-2017-08, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    23. Justin Yifu Lin & Célestin Monga & Samuel Standaert, 2017. "The Inclusive Substainable Transformation Index," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 17/932, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    24. Tilman Altenburg & Wilfried Lütkenhorst, 2015. "Industrial Policy in Developing Countries," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14726.

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