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Explaining Success and Failure in Development

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  • Szirmai, Adam

    () (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University)

Abstract

Since 1950, there has been considerable diversity in developing country experiences. Some countries and some regions have experienced rapid growth and catch up, others have fallen behind. At a global level there is an increasing inequality of per capita incomes. However, within the framework of increasing inequality, some countries have experienced accelerated catch up. The speed of catch up in the successful countries is more rapid than in previous historical periods. This paper analyses the sources of success and failure in economic development in the post-war period. It applies a framework of proximate, intermediate and ultimate causality. Proximate factors refer to the directly quantifiable economic sources of growth, intermediate factors refer to demand and policies, ultimate sources refer to the deeper historical, cultural, geographic and institutional sources of development. Monocausal explanations of success and failure are rejected. However, amongst the various sources of growth, the paper places special emphasis on developing countries' ability to tap into global knowledge flows. There is not a single example of successful catch up since 1868 which did not involve tapping into international technology. The extent to which countries can profit from international technology flows depends on their absorptive capacities, technological capabilities and systems of innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Szirmai, Adam, 2008. "Explaining Success and Failure in Development," MERIT Working Papers 013, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2008013
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    File URL: https://www.merit.unu.edu/publications/wppdf/2008/wp2008-013.pdf
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Szirmai, Adam, 2011. "Angus Maddison and Development Economics," MERIT Working Papers 035, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Neþe Kumral & Çaðaçan Deðer & Burcu Türkcan, 2008. "Competitive Industrial Performance Index and It’s Drivers: Case of Turkey and Selected Countries," Papers of the Annual IUE-SUNY Cortland Conference in Economics,in: Proceedings of the Conference on Emerging Economic Issues in a Globalizing World, pages 208-229 Izmir University of Economics.
    3. Szirmai, Adam, 2009. "Industrialisation as an engine of growth in developing countries," MERIT Working Papers 010, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    4. Enrico Santarelli & Hien Tran, 2013. "The interplay of human and social capital in shaping entrepreneurial performance: the case of Vietnam," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 435-458, February.
    5. Szirmai, Adam, 2012. "Industrialisation as an engine of growth in developing countries, 1950–2005," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 406-420.
    6. Szirmai, Adam & Verspagen, Bart, 2015. "Manufacturing and economic growth in developing countries, 1950–2005," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 46-59.
    7. Ambachew, Mekonnen Sisay, 2009. "The Dynamic Links between Investment, Trade and Growth: Evidence from Ethiopia," Ethiopian Journal of Economics, Ethiopian Economics Association, vol. 18(2).
    8. Kesidou, Effie & Szirmai, Adam, 2008. "Local Knowledge Spillovers, Innovation and Economic Performance in Developing Countries: A discussion of alternative specifications," MERIT Working Papers 033, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    9. Rooks, Gerrit & Szirmai, Adam & Sserwanga, Arthur, 2009. "The Interplay of Human and Social Capital in Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries: The Case of Keywords: social capital, human capital, entrepreneurship, developing countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 009, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Bluhm, Richard & Szirmai, Adam, 2012. "Institutions and long-run growth performance: An analytic literature review of the institutional determinants of economic growth," MERIT Working Papers 033, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Catch Up; Economic Development; Economic Growth; Advantages of Backwardness; Absorptive Capacity;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies

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