Beyond Developmental State Working Group

Working Group Guide Statement

BDSWG aims to bring together researchers who use Marxist and heterodox political economy to examine the causes, consequences, incidence and dynamics of state intervention in and across the developed and developing world.


By the late 1980s growing acknowledgement of state intervention in promoting economic development in East Asia encouraged a proliferation of research into what differentiated the more successful variants of East Asian state intervention from other developing countries’ less positive experiences of the role of the state. These approaches represented useful attempts to investigate the economic processes of, and political preconditions for, successful state intervention and spawned the concept of the ‘developmental state’. This notion has subsequently dominated the discourse in favour of state intervention. However, the developmental state literature has tended to proceed in parallel with Marxist perspectives, which have in part focused on the systemic reasons for less successful state intervention in other countries. There is also the issue of whether the state can be ‘autonomous’ as a pre-condition for being developmental, even given that this notion can itself be satisfactorily specified.


BDSWG aims to bring critical yet constructive analyses of the dynamics of state intervention across countries and sectors from Marxist and heterodox perspectives and apply them in relation to the developmental state literature. By doing so it is hoped to bridge the empirical divide across case studies of state intervention and strengthen the theoretical understanding of the nature of the state and the factors behind the interventions it undertakes. It is intended to strengthen an awareness that state intervention of a successful nature can take place outside of the political preconditions often prescribed and/or presumed by the developmental state school – namely state autonomy and authoritarianism.

Research interests

BDSWG was initiated in July 2008 and, following a number of small meetings amongst those interested, it was agreed to focus initially on six core themes in which BDSWG seeks to establish itself as a leading research forum. This selection of themes is based on addressing the major weaknesses in current research and, by extension, is aimed at opening up new areas for debate and discussion. In the first instance, activity will primarily be informal through internet discussion and sharing of papers. The core research themes are noted below.

  • State intervention in Africa
  • State intervention in India and South Asia
  • Reassessing state intervention in East Asia
  • Implications of ‘globalisation’ for the dynamics of state intervention
  • Linkage-agency analysis in interpreting state intervention and formulating policy
  • The impact of financialisation on state intervention

Researchers interested in contributing to these areas, via articles, working papers, comments and analysis are invited to contact the working group director, Jyoti Saraswati, at




Humam Al-Jazaeri

Faculty of Economics, University of Damascus
Research interests include the role of technology in facilitating development in emerging markets and transition economies
Contact details:

Sam Ashman

School of Economics and Business Sciences, University of Witwatersrand
Research interests include corporate strategy and industrial development
Contact details:

 Pritish Behuria

Department of Development Studies, SOAS
Research interests include developmental states and global commodity chains
Contact details:

 John Bobuin Gemandze

Department of Political and Public Administration, University of Buea
Research interests include public sector reform and sustainable development
Contact details:

 Eka Ikpe

African Leadership Centre, Kings College London
Research centred on the relationship between security and development
Contact details:

Kasper Vrolijk

Department of Economics, SOAS
Research interests include industrial policy and structural transformation in Africa
Contact details:

 Judit Ricz

Institute of World Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Research interests include developmental states, development economics, and the political economy of Latin America
Contact details:

Hajime Sato

Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization
Research interests include industrial development in Asian countries
Contact details:

Daniela Tavasci

School of Economics and Finance, Queen Mary, University of London
Research centred on financialisation
Contact details:


Conference papers

Founding members of the BDSWG presented a panel at the Historical Materialism Annual Conference 2007 titled Development and Systems of Accumulation. Papers included Jyoti Saraswati’s The Indian IT Industry and Neo-Liberalism: The Irony of a Mythology (subsequently published as an article in Third World Quarterly and expanded into a book Dot.compradors: Power and Policy in the Development of the Indian Software Industry), Vanessa Ushie’s Peculiarities of Accumulation in the Petro-States: The Case of Nigeria and Hajime Sato’s Steel Industry in Asia: Political Economy and Industrial Policy . A follow-up panel was organised for the Historical Materialism Annual Conference in 2011 titled Beyond the Developmental State. Papers included Eka Ikpe’s Learning from Developmental States: The role of Agriculture in Structural Transformation in Nigeria, Jyoti Saraswati’s Developmental Interventions in a Non-Developmental State: Evidence from the Indian IT Industry and Hajime Sato’s The Rise and Fall of the Developmental State? The case of the Japanese and South Korean steel industries. Related papers from members have also been presented at the IIPPE International Research Workshops in Crete, Naples, Istanbul and Paris as well as numerous other international conferences.


In 2013 an edited book based on the research of BDS members will be published. Beyond the Developmental State: Industrial Policy into the 21st Century (Pluto, 2013), edited by Daniela Tavasci, Jyoti Saraswati and Ben Fine, presents a collection of chapter case studies of state intervention cutting across all manner of sectoral, geographical and political contexts. Unparalleled in breadth, heterodox in orientation, the book aims to provide a much-needed injection of fresh-thinking into discussions over the appropriate role of the state in economic development.

Papers to download