Technology and Economic Development

Course description
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Resource booms, busts and new developmentalism

Course description

For a long time, the question of industrialisation and technology have taken centre-stage in debates about development. In mainstream analyses, technology is often treated as a component outside the process of production and innovation. This course will however consider approaches that incorporate technology and interests (including political, bureaucratic, scientific, and business etc.) as inherent aspects to the process of expanding technological capabilities and generating new industrial activities in developing countries. It specifically examines the role of and relationships among actors, groups and interests within the political and institutional context of developing countries to understand how they interact to drive or constrain technological and economic outcomes.

Between the late 1990s and 2014, resource-exporting countries experienced a remarkable shift in their terms of trade and surge in demand for primary commodities from China and to a lesser extent India. Known as the 'super commodity cycle', this period represented for resource wealthy nations principally located in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa unprecedented growth that inspired triumphalist narratives among economists about ‘catch up’, ‘convergence’ and ‘rise’. It lent support to a  supposed new paradigm of developmentalism. The course surveys mainstream and heterodox explanations of these developments and explores  these growth trajectories from a historical perspective, and the implications for developmentalist thinking in the 21st century.