International Coercion, Emulation and Policy Diffusion: Market-Oriented Infrastructure Reforms, 1977-1999
Why do some countries adopt market-oriented reforms such as deregulation, privatization and liberalization of competition in their infrastructure industries while others do not? Why did the pace of adoption accelerate in the 1990s? Building on neo-institutional theory in sociology, we argue that the domestic adoption of market-oriented reforms is strongly influenced by international pressures of coercion and emulation. We find robust support for these arguments with an event-history analysis of the determinants of reform in the telecommunications and electricity sectors of as many as 205 countries and territories between 1977 and 1999. Our results also suggest that the coercive effect of multilateral lending from the IMF, the World Bank or Regional Development Banks is increasing over time, a finding that is consistent with anecdotal evidence that multilateral organizations have broadened the scope of the “conditionality” terms specifying market-oriented reforms imposed on borrowing countries. We discuss the possibility that, by pressuring countries into policy reform, cross-national coercion and emulation may not produce ideal outcomes.
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