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Cara Hayes

I found Rodrik’s article to be very refreshing because of its dismissal of the “one size fits all” approach to developmental economics. While it is important to understand the factors that contribute to economic growth, growth strategies should be tailored to a specific country. The economic growth of the United States over the past 200 years has been outstanding, yet no one expects the exact process that led to this to translate to another developing nation today. While current theories emphasize liberalization, deregulation and privatization, they are not the panacea for all developing countries. Rodrik points out that the U.S., Europe and Japan, who have reached similar levels of wealth, all protect property rights, regulate product, labor and financial markets, have sound money and provide for social insurance, yet their institutions to uphold these functions vary greatly. When policy makers lose site of this, “sound economics [are] delivered in unsound form”(15).

This article brings me back to Krugman’s piece and our discussion in class last Thursday about the value of economic models. We came to the conclusion that models, while not an accurate reflection of reality, allow us to make valuable estimations about the real world. I think a similar argument can be made about economic theories to developing nations. While a specific growth strategy cannot be expected to immediately ignite economic growth in a country, policy makers can learn a lot from these theories and models. Rodrik concludes that, “The key is to realize that these principles do not translate directly into specific policy recommendations” (32). However, theories such as the Washington Consensus, shouldn’t be completely discarded because certain aspects, such as reforms to establish property rights and creating market incentives, could be highly applicable to certain developing nations.

Allie Barry

As I read through this paper by Rodrik, I found myself agreeing with many of his points. In trying to understand his thoughts and arguments, I often found myself comparing policies and institutions within the U.S. with those of Denmark, where I studied abroad last fall. I found that so many of his points applied to the differences one sees between the two countries. While both countries are highly developed with high standards of living, it seems to me, the two could not have more different political, economic and social institutions, which goes to support Rodrik’s argument that individual policies must be tailored to the specifics of each nation that they are meant to help. During my time in Denmark I took a Healthcare Economics and an Environmental Economics course focused on Danish policies and how those worked in comparison to the United States’ policies. Being a small, progressive country with minimal crime, the happiest people in the world and very low rates of poverty, it seemed as if the country was functioning like a utopia and thus there were many times other students and I would find ourselves questioning “why can’t the U.S. implement something like this.” However, after one semester studying the differences in policy, it became apparent that those policies simply would not work as well as they do there on such a big country such as the United States. The institutions and policies have allowed for success in Denmark and the United States can definitely take a few pointers from the Danish policy, however the U.S. is truly a whole other animal which needs its own unique policies and institutions to function properly as a developed country. This same theory applies to developing countries, there is no cookie cutter approach that will fix all problems, but rather time and thought must be put in to construct efficient policy and successful institutions in a country that will allow it to develop and sustain.

Alex Shields

In this paper, Rodrik begins with a simple conclusion that third world economic development is improving at an incredible rate. Rodrik, however, goes on to explain that this is a misguided conclusion from far too simplistic and broad data. He explains that some regions of the world are growing at an incredible pace (east Asia), some at a more moderate, yet still impressive pace (south Asia) and others at an incredibly slow pace or not at all (Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa). Rodrik spends much of his paper exploring the policy actions taken in all these regions relating to economic development and compares them to the “Washington Consensus,” which are the generally accepted policy recommendations from Western nations. He realizes that in most cases that the “institutional functions” are similar yet the “institutional forms” are quite different. I feel like this is a critical point and one that we must bear in mind in order to speed up the process of development. Every nation is different, historically, culturally, socially and economically, and therefore some of the solutions prescribed under the “Washington Consensus” must take different forms than we may be used to. China is a critical example explained through its farming surplus rules and its system of property rights, both concepts that would be looked down upon in the United States but policies that worked, within the framework of China’s history and culture, to improve economic conditions.

I was able to relate this idea to football by thinking about the Chip Kelly experiment in Philadelphia. In this case, I think of Chip Kelly as the United States and their economic recommendations and I view the rest of the NFL as the developing nations of the world. Chip Kelly entered the NFL after successfully coaching the University of Oregon for a number of years. He brought with him the same final goals as any other head coach in the NFL – winning the Super Bowl. His methods, however, whether they be his no-huddle, speed spread system or his methods of managing the locker room, simply did not mesh with the NFL and failed to bring the desired success to the Philadelphia Eagles in the same way that the United States economic recommendations often do not work exactly as planned in other developing nations. I believe that Rodrik reveals an important concept in saying that economic development, with regards to the forms of institutions used, is not a one-size-fits-all (or rather one-form-fits-all) system.

David Cohen

To build from previous responses, I definitely agree that Rodrik was very convincing in his endorsement for policy strategies unique to a country’s specific circumstances and existing institutions. Often times, people tend to misapply insights they might have gained through their own experiences to the radically different situation of another, by mistakenly viewing it from within one’s own context. For example, Americans might view a Maori tribesman as backwards because of his lack of clothes. For us westerners, clothes represent civilization and culture, but only according to our western understanding of those concepts. Of course this is a generalization of the idea, but it seems clear that this way of thinking does exists, to a certain degree, within the field of economics as well. This is only natural, but it is something one must overcome when proposing policy across the planet. The economic success in China, Korea, and Taiwan are great examples. Rodrik explains that these countries really did not abide to the tenants of the Washington Consensus (but only partially adopting such ideas as appropriate for their own systems), and saw fantastic growth regardless.

It seems clear from this article that such a US-centric attitude is evident. The term “Washington Consensus”, in and of itself, displays this inherent truth. After all, aren’t we the best? Every American should think so, but that doesn’t mean that the economic policies that have worked for us will work for every nation. I’m sure Danish people think they are the best as well (I happen to know a couple), but Allie astutely notes that despite their successes, their policies could never work in the United States. Here’s another example of how this rationale is natural, but incorrect:

As I have learned in another class this term, Chinese academics would view western scholarship on ethnic minorities in China’s border regions as an imperialist, government-sponsored plot attempting to stir a nationalist resurgence within the PRC. This is an incorrect, though understandably emotional response on the part of the Chinese, due to the history they have experienced with imperialism in the 19th century. Furthermore, it is understandable that they would assume such scholarship is the product of a government agenda because this is exactly the type of system that exists in China. In fact, scholarship in China is totally fueled by the agenda of the Chinese Communist party, and it is reasonable for them to assume the same about us, because that is how they operate.

Overhauling all of a country’s political and economic institutions hardly seems like a viable option across most of the world, and it is foolish of us to advocate for that. It seems like what is necessary is a team of highly trained economists, familiar with the way China partially adopted first-order economic principles within the context of long existing domestic institutions, to advise individual countries on unique policy options that would work in their system. Of course, this is all easier said than done.

Matthew Jones

Rodrik highlights the ability of China and other East Asian countries to develop significantly in the decades of the late 20th century. The main point he stresses is economic growth, which is certainly the point of his essay. However, my question concerns the happiness and well-being of those people in light of the sometimes restrictive government regulations used to promote that growth. He mentions farmers in China who are required to meet a state quota of produce by first giving x number of crops to the state, and then being allowed to sell the excess at the market for a profit. However, a policy likes this restricts a person's free will. This relates back to Sen with the belief that development is a product of freedom. There is no freedom in mandating what people do with the fruits of their own labor and hard-work. Furthermore, the restrictions Rodrik mentions in the amount of land people can own in China based on the size of their family further prevents access to acquiring land in the way that people in a free-market economy could do so easily. I do not doubt the effectiveness of the restrictive policies used in Asia to ensure economic prosperity, but I am unable to agree with the success of the development in light of the restrictions employed. Examining "Development as Freedom" as Sen does would suggest that development has failed to occur with restrictions in basic freedoms. The people may be better off financially, but perhaps they are worse off due to the restriction of free will. I think this is where the big question arises: how much free will should we be willing to sacrifice in order to ensure economic prosperity and economic development?
Maybe it is okay then to sacrifice a little free will and our ability to participate in an unregulated market if it means that as a whole our country can improve. With the development of the economy in China, living standards have no doubt also increased. This can include nutrition, shelter, perhaps more happiness with more spending money, and more than likely a better overall well-being. Thus, maybe big government restrictions are not such a bad thing after all if they are employed in the right manner.

Tanpreet Hunjan

Rodrik's countless case studies throughout his paper illustrates that no one model should dominate the way in which we thing about growth strategies. He highlights the importance of context and how the Washington Consensus is not a method in which may be the best growth strategy for many countries. With juxtaposing cultures and existing infrastructures, it is hard to replicate successful policies that have worked in the past. Latin America is one of his examples he used as a region who held the most similar reality to the Washington Consensus prescriptions but with this process had very little growth benefit. With Latin Americas growth remaining below pre-1980 levels Rodrik's emphasizes how the process of growth is scattered and unpredictable and in some case more unorthodox methods can lead to great growth results (China).

Another area of his paper that also interested me is the concept that sustaining growth is more difficult then igniting it. The trajectory of convergence is rarely steady and his comment that growth spurts end only after a decade perplex me. Looking forward to Rodrik's interest in entrepreneurship and on how to get entrepreneurs excited about investing in an economy, it seems to me that the two pronged growth strategy could be, for select countries, the way to sustainable growth. The elimination of government and market failures makes the several pathways to growth, monotonous and complex.

Pearce Embrey

Reading Dani Rodrik’s “Growth Strategies,” I find my self a little uneasy. Through the first 2 two-thirds of the paper, Rodrik essentially says that there is no fit-all way to create growth for LDC’s. Of course, there is a group of free-trade suggestions, called the Washington Consensus, that a Western economist would almost certainly give to a country asking for help, but Rodrik makes the point, using the nations of China, South Korea, Argentina, and India as examples of governments that created growth using their own approaches. While Rodrik does give an interesting investment strategy at the end of the paper, the whole time I was reading this paper, I kept asking myself, “Why does Rodrik’s theory matter?” If these governments are able to construct their own policies that stimulate economic growth and make the lives of its people “better,” then why are we trying to determine their best course of action? Rodrik acknowledges that is difficult to grow and then maintain economies, so shouldn’t we allow each government to do what they see fit? It seemed to work in the individual cases of the nations listed above, even if they did take a little bit of trade liberalization theory with them.


In my Civil War history class (from which I have drawn considerably more comparison than I expected for development economics), we are currently discussing whether the war was perceived by the American people as an event or a process. Was it a marked occasion with a beginning, middle and end punctuated by some sought-after change? Or was it a festering issue that had roots hundreds of years in the making and no clear end? We went back and forth in attempts to figure out which the war was, ultimately deciding that the nature of war in the nineteenth century was different from that today. It was a decades old problem, but the Civil War was remarkably well peppered by battles and events considered to be a beginning (Fort Sumter), middle (the turning point in 1863) and an end (Appomattox Courthouse). Today’s history discussion got me thinking about development economics as an event and a process. I believe it can be both. It is an event in that there is a clear goal and there are moves to achieve that goal. But it is a process in that it is ever-changing and ever-growing. In Rodrik's "Growth Strategies," I find evidence for both event and process.

It has been a process from big push ideals to market-oriented strategies to the Washington Consensus. The move toward second generation economic development policy illustrates that taming the beast of extreme poverty and inciting economic growth is not a one-time event, but rather something that takes adaptation and human compassion and truly has no end. In that, it is a process. But I would argue that this process is marked by sporadic events – policy implementation or a change in popular opinion – that move the crusade forward. The decisions, like whether to accept direct foreign investment or to liberalize trade or to implement transitional institutions, are events with a strict beginning, middle and end; however, they parlay into a much larger framework of procession that cannot be boiled down quite so easily. Latin America has made a “determined attempt” to eradicate extreme poverty, arguably more so than East Asian countries, but has seen so little come of their efforts. It is my belief that these events – policy changes and national movements – are simply events of a long process with less tangible short-term effects but remarkable long-term ones. Moves to secure higher order economic principles – property rights, fiscal solvency, etc. – are also but a piece of the puzzle. Detailed policy moves are not quite as tied to economic growth. They are greyer and they are less concrete. But they are of utmost importance in the ongoing pursuit of economic growth. Regardless of strategy, economic growth is a moving, breathing, living goal. It is not complacent and it is not easily attained. It is both event and process, married to one another in order to achieve a better future. There was no beginning and there will be no end.

Thomas Thagard

Rodrick provides us with two exceptionally interesting insights within the realm of development economics. The first is the notion that unorthodox methods tend to be much more effective at jump-starting an economy. Conversely, the countries that have used the cookie cutter economic policy provided by development economists have not fared as well. The best example of this is the comparison between eastern Asian countries and South American countries. Thus, it appears that countries such as China, Taiwan, and South Korea who have used unorthodox and autocratic methods to jumpstart there economies have succeeded while generally ignoring the application of important institutions. Thus, we reach the question: “what do we know?”. Rodrick states that jumpstarting an economy is easier than preserving it. It is in this manner that he makes a bold statement that local knowledge of an economy will best help it expand. Thus, economies are not all the same different countries have different products and different societies have different values upon their institutions. So, what can American development economists actual do to help developing countries? It seems to me that there can be no mold to improving an economy just simple evaluation of current problems in a country. Obviously the end goal is to establish free markets and free trade but it appears as if the immediate application of these institutions is not always the best for a country.

Ella Rose

I found Rodrik’s argument very persuasive. He carefully laid out the history of economic strategies, noting people’s general thinking about policies and then comparing them to actual finding in the real world. He did a great job laying out different examples and building the case that development is accomplished very differently in different cultures, and within different institutions. The tables at the end of the paper proves to be very helpful. It is not like all different people want radically different things for their lives, or that some policies are universally better than others. Instead, careful attention must be paid to cultural and institutional practices to create the best policies for specific people groups. I found his study of China particularly compelling. He went through what a western economist would have advised China, and then noted how this wasn’t the most effective strategy. Every country, generally, has the same high-economic goals. However, different cultures have very different strategies to make this goals into a reality.

I think this is a crucial point in development economics, and one that Americans need to be reminded of often. I read a book this summer called “When Helping Hurts” and it talked about developing countries’ view of Americans coming in and helping “make their country better.” They describe the experience as an elephant stomping around and making a lot noise and then leaving. The country receiving this "aid" is just left confused and not quite sure where to go next. It is clear that this elephant was there, and was very powerful, but it is not so clear what is had to offer to their current experience. Often, there is little consideration for cultural difference, but just the idea that America’s policies and practices should be applied everywhere. This view of American Exceptionalism sees America’s democratic structure as the best way, and one that everyone else should adopt. I am not sure Rodrik would agree with this, and I wouldn’t either. It takes special consideration of cultural constraints and “unconventional” ideas to help bring these high economic ideal into diverse societies.

Matthew Sgro

Rodrik's article is long and somewhat dense, but gives insight into the different ways countries can (and have) gone about economic development. I find the martian example very compelling especially relating policy growth strategies of different countries to that of some of the items in the "Washington Consensus". As stated in the article some of the countries who followed this list most closely (Latin America) have not experienced the same growth as other countries who would have had low Table 2 scores (Southeast Asia). I know this is not a great example, but hearing this I immediately related it to my experience coaching basketball to kids in Rockbridge county. It was impossible to make everyone of these 10 year olds understand the game (some would understand one drill and others would look lost) but as you come to know each player you can somewhat tailor drills/practices to get across your point in a way that puts them in a position to be successful come gametime. This is something I believe Rodrik would also agree with - not every policy will work for every country, it is important to understand the intricacies of the area so as to instill the policies that would provide the greatest benefits. Rodrik goes so far to say that some countries were even worse off even though they seemed to improve policies, "Africa, where economic decline persists despite an overall (if less marked) “improvement” in the
policy environment. (pg.7)" How could this be?

Rodrik then goes on to admit that while these anomalies worked in certain instances, there are many situations in which they did not. His main point seems to be that countries must focus on the end goal of growth rather than the means of getting there. Even withing the southeast Asian countries their innovation strategies were significantly different from each other. Each country will have many different variables that will effect their institutions/policies, such as pre-existing institutional factors and therefore, "the 'art'
of reform consists of selecting appropriately from a potentially infinite menu of institutional
designs. (pg.12)"

Matthew Sgro

In a way Rodrik almost makes the picture of economic development more murky by denouncing some of the common universal solutions - and in essence telling us the phrase we've become accustomed to so far in this class....... "It depends".

Spencer Payne

I completely agree with Cara on the point that the author did a nice job dismissing the "'one size fits all approach' to development economics." Sure, Rodrik said that protection of property rights, market-based competition, and macroeconomic stability are first-order economic principles that drive economic growth, but he does not suggest that there is only one policy package to accomplish these ends. I liked the fact that he acknowledged differences in social preferences and culture need to be taken into account when developing policy, in light of the fact that “countries that developed their formal legal orders internally, adapted imported local codes to local conditions, or had familiarity with foreign codes ended up with much better legal institutions than those that simply transplanted foreign legal orders from abroad.” As he explained, what worked for China, would likely fail in sub-Saharan Africa.

This nuance, or a “growth strategy relativism” or sorts, contradicts the Washington Consensus of the 1980’s, and reminded me of the way in which the Magic Bullet Theory fell out of favor in the media industry. This theory suggested that people are, according to Shearon Lowry, uniformly controlled by their biologically-based instincts and react more or less uniformly to whatever stimuli comes along. In other words, this theory argued that all people responded to media messages in the same way. Developed in the 1930’s, this theory was dismissed just one decade later, when new research came to the fore. It was replaced by the notion that people respond to media messages differently based on their age, political views, etc., suggesting that the media could not just communicate one message and expect to incite a uniform response — just like Rodrik argues that liberalization of markets does not yield unambiguous economic expansion.


I thought this piece by Rodrik was very interesting. After learning about the history of development economics, it seemed that many economists were trying to find universal laws of development–in that any country that followed these guidelines would increase economic development drastically and would escape the cycle of underdevelopment. Rodrik describes what policy makers have dubbed as the rules for development. Yet by looking at China, East Asia, and India, one can see that these countries did not follow these rules and still have some of the highest rates of development. This goes to show that each country must have its own detailed package in terms of spurring development. No country is exactly the same. Another thing noted in this paper is appropriate incentives, property rights, sound money, and fiscal solvency. These principles are present in the United States as well as China and Europe but the manner in which they are implemented is different. While these principles alone are factors of each country’s success, they have been implemented through different policy actions that are engineered specifically for each individual country.
To me, this makes perfect sense. There are obviously some things that every country must have in order to have economic success, but every country is different politically and culturally. Being in the middle of the presidential debate, my Danish teammate and I have had many arguments about certain policies presented by Trump and Hillary. It is very interesting to hear his opinion in terms of policy because to him, Hillary is considered far right wing. Now obviously Denmark has economic success (it is considered one of the happiest countries in the world), but what he says works perfectly well in Denmark I find hard to believe would be just as successful in the United States. He tells me that education is virtually free in Denmark while that has yet to come close in the United States. Taxes rise greatly as incomes rise, which would seem like it would completely kill any incentives to improve one’s position. But that does not seem to be the case in Denmark. This goes to show that while some fundamentals in economic development must be present, they can be implemented in ways that are specific to the country in which they will be implemented in.

Jack Miller

Elizabeth Wolf

I thought this paper does an excellent job mixing theory of economic development with specific case examples that highlight Rodrick’s message. One of the more interesting points, and a topic that is frequently addressed, is China’s startling rate of growth especially with respect to other East-Asian country’s growth rate. Rodrick outlines the elements of China’s policy development as a way of explaining why they were so successful, but I am interested in learning the specifics of what aided, as well as prevented, Indian economic growth on the same scale. The paper notes that there are some properties of economic development policy that are uniform, but the details vary situationally, and the need for contextualized policies. While India’s gradualism is noted as a cause for their slower growth, I was interested in the specific policies that lead to this growth, or whether it was a lack of policies or social and political drive.

For example, Rodrick notes, “China did not even adopt a private property rights regime and it merely appended a market system to the scaffolding of a planned economy.” Was India similar in its approach? Why was China’s success multiples of other Asian nations, especially India? I thought Rodrick does a great job of pulling back the veil in terms of economic theory and the policies that encourage growth. We have been walked through why China developed the way it did, why did India?

Julia Mayol

While reading “Growth Strategies,” I very much enjoyed two of the main points made by Rodrik; the first one being the role of institutions. As he states: “In the long run, the main thing that ensures convergence with the living standards of advanced countries is the acquisition of high-quality institutions;” it is almost impossible to have economic growth if the country's institutions are not willing to work towards it. My comments might be a little bit redundant, as I am always bringing up things from Argentina, but the fact the past government “stole” an entire year's GD, as some sources say, blows my mind. Having a government with that level of corruption makes it impossible to think about the existence of high-quality institutions. By lying about the unemployment level, poverty indexes and inflation, among others, institutions make economics growth unimaginable.
The second point I enjoyed reading about was related to how economics policies cannot be randomly applied to any country. The fact that a set of policies created constant growth in one country, does not mean that it will do the same in other. Local conditions matter because those economic principles come “institution free and filling them out requires local knowledge.” Once again, I will bring up Argentina as an example. While the economic, education, energy resources, among other ministers, have studied abroad and earned MBA degrees, seeming to be totally qualified for their jobs, they fail to understand that the policies that work in the USA, will not probably work in Argentina, unless local conditions are analyzed and modified.

Corey Guen

In this paper Rodrik makes a case that is difficult to argue with, that certain “higher order” economic principles underpin most development successes in the past half century, but applying them without consideration for the history, cultural and economic nuance of any particular case is foolish. A particularly salient section of this paper for me was the assessment of China’s admirable and unorthodox path to its current status. Rodrik begins by imagining a Western economist invited to pre-boom China to offer advice, and his recommendation ultimately closely resembles the “Washington Consensus”. This is not borne of economic or cultural arrogance, but based on essential action known to promote economic growth, namely correction of market inefficiencies, appropriate implementation of incentives and installing sufficient safeguards to shield against the adverse effects of major economic reform. Though the Western recommendations are proven to be generally effective, China presented a unique case, as all countries do, where circumstances open up alternative, potentially more effective routes. The key here seems to be that drawing on the universal, underlying foundations of sound policy is indispensable, but significant tailoring to the case and innovative approach is equally necessary to implementing effective and efficient reform.
It’s this lesson that brought me to my major connection with this paper, my work this summer with GoPro, not coincidentally in China. The insights Rodrik offers concerning development have wider applications, and by tweaking a few words and phrases, one might easily apply these insights to business. It was fascinating to work with an American company in China, and to observe the behavior of other such firms, since the accepted knowledge of how best to conduct business is only sporadically applicable in China. Some of our strongest companies, with billions of dollars in revenue and massive multinational presence (Google and Facebook represent the two most glaring examples) have entered China only to be thrown right back out, reeling and unsure how to proceed. Even the keynote speaker for W&L’s recent Entrepreneurship Summit, a Google manager, merely shrugged and acknowledged China as an ongoing area of interest for Google, and that it was a tricky situation. That is astonishing coming from the most powerful tech company in the world, ejected from the market over 7 years ago and with no better understanding today of how to approach China. As for GoPro, it’s a small but well-known company doing its best to learn from the failures of its predecessors and mimic their successes. Instead of opting to enter with the sheer force of some peers (a costly strategy that doomed Uber this summer), GoPro has started slowly, hiring an entirely Chinese staff instead of asking an American team to learn how China works and then implement marketing and sales strategies. They still seek to build a loyal customer base through smart marketing, positioning themselves as a must-have luxury in the same vein as iPhones, and to build off previous success. These goals represent the “higher order principles” Rodrik refers to, that underpin all successes, but the approach is engineered specifically for China. For example, Americans respond well to extreme sports videos like skydives; Chinese hasn’t opened up to such sports yet, and still lacks the disposable income to make this sport popular, so that type of content won’t work in marketing to Chinese.

Crosby Ellinger

One of the points that I found interesting in the paper is when Rodrik illustrates that many of the past examples of economic growth were caused by relatively small changes in policy reforms. For instance, Rodrik highlights a table that lists specific countries and times in which they underwent economic growth (table 9). Many of the examples he calls "usual suspects" or examples in which the economists can name the type of policy reform that lead to the economic growth. However, many of the examples that Rodrik points out, such as Pakistan in 1979 or Syria in 1969 would, as Rodrik explains, cause economists to "draw a blank stare". Rodrik articulates this because he is trying to drive home the point that there is often a misconception that for economic growth to occur, there needs to be large policy reform, or a major change in the economic environment, etc. However, Rodrik is illustrating that history proves otherwise, and that most instances of economic growth are brought about by relatively small changes in policy.

Ololade Rachel Oguntola

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece by Rodrik on growth strategies. Not only was it easy to understand unlike some other pieces we have read in class, but also I was able to draw some parallels in the context of home country. One thing that Rodrik emphasized was the need to use different models and policies for different situations and economies. This is very crucial to understand as it helps in finding ways to adapt general economic ideas to different countries in an efficient way after several factors within those countries have been accessed. By so doing, one can come up with a country-specific policy that works. Around the 80s, Nigeria implemented a policy (Structural Adjustment Program) advocated by the World Bank and IMF that sought to stimulate economic growth. Many other African nations also adopted this program and bought into the ‘one size fits all’ policy idea. Unfortunately, all this policy did, especially in Nigeria’s case, was further decline growth as the program understood little of the Nigerian economic system and the politics involved. As such, this program did not stimulate the economic growth it was theoretically supposed to stimulate.

Another point that Rodrik emphasized was the difference between creating of economic growth and sustaining said growth. Many African countries have still not grasped this difference and is one reason why many of the African nations are behind on this growth story. In Nigeria’s case, government failure has attributed to the setback in understanding what needs to be done. A lot of government officials in the country have made it almost next to impossible to sustain growth after it has being created. Early in September, a rising entrepreneurial firm in Nigeria, Nuli Juice Company, was demolished by local government officials on claims of regulation breach. This is just one out of the many entrepreneurial firms that are very vulnerable under the harsh laws they are met with. Rodrik in his paper advocates against such attitudes and government-imposed barriers towards entrepreneurship as they only harm economic growth. It is only when country economists and government officials begin to work hand-in-hand to create institutional arrangements that are specific and relevant to their countries. Like Rodrik said, “the hard work needs to be done at home”. This cannot be more true especially for many African nations who believe what has worked in the west can also work for them.

Andy Kleinlein

Rodrik provides an argument that I find very appealing backed up with interesting examples. He discusses that the economic growth of countries in the last century has been due to slight policy changes. For example, China has drastically changed the landscape of their economic well-being without changing its government or beliefs. With slight policy changes, many lives have been improved. I enjoyed seeing his perspective, but would have rather seen him dive more into the development of a country like China. I am interested to see the progress in health and education along with the policy changes. I think that a huge part of the Chinese development is attributed to less starvation.

Furthermore, I had never been outside of the country, but this summer I was given the opportunity to travel to Italy and see a different culture. In seeing this culture, I now have a comparison to the United States. Previously, I didn’t experience these different people and policies. It became evident to me that the live different lifestyles and have different beliefs. Italians would not respond the same way to economic policies and each country has a different way to develop and move out of poverty. While Italy isn’t heavily impoverished, I could tell that there was much more of a collective, laid back mindset where they didn’t stress over the little things in life. In America, people get worked up about certain topics very easily. I think that this is clear evidence to me that countries respond differently and develop differently due to certain policies and motivations.

Jillian Leigh

After reading Rodrik's "Growth Strategies" I had a difficult time deciding what to write my blog post about. In order to get inspired I read a couple other student's posts to see what their ideas were about the paper. The one post that stood out to me was Matthew Jones' asking "how much free will should we be willing to sacrifice in order to ensure economic prosperity and economic development?" His question and ideas about how limiting freedoms in order to stimulate economic growth were not something I had thought about while reading, but I did agree with the points he made. These ideas reminded me of a project a family friend started with the Maasai tribes in Tanzania. With the modernization and tourism attractions moving to Tanzania the Maasai the nomadic aspects of their culture have been drastically limited. As a result of this they are unable to breed their cattle, which they use to barter and trade. Since they are no longer migrating, their cattle trade has drastically dropped and caused major issues for this community's economy. In order to stimulate the Maasai economy and economic development, a family friend of mine has started Maasai Honey. Maasai Honey is a brand of honey that is made by the Maasai and sold in the United States. My friend travels to Africa twice a year to teach this community how to build and maintain beehives, as well as bottle and prepare the honey for sale. This program has faced major challenges because the Maasai people do not want to change their culture and tradition surrounding cattle trade. The Tanzanian government has limited their freedom to migrate and freedom to practice their own culture by limiting their migration. As a result of this their economic growth has actually come to a plateau. I think this problem is a good example of Rodrik's idea that each developing economy cannot follow a strict list of steps to development. For example, Tanzania cannot follow western development ideas because the culture and the freedoms these people desire are not similar.


Rodrik reminds us that there is a not a one-size-fits-all solution to development economics. Thinking of context-specific solutions follows the recurring theme of the class where we think about poverty as more than low incomes, considering capabilities and other measurements. It makes sense that we must must consider the society and traditions of the country when thinking of growth strategies. This discussion reminds me of my social entrepreneurship class, which touches on the failures of intuitions and the traditional philanthropic sector. A social entrepreneur relies on the market to spur economic growth in an efficient and sustainable way. For these ventures to be successful they must take the regions culture into account in order to create a marketable solution. To see success, they may not on the ‘Washington Consensus’ or choose to be more innovative and meets the demands of the community where they work. I think that the development field could learn from this. This paper also reminds me of our discussion last week on the shortcomings of models. Economists cannot simply transfer the model directly into policy in other regions where it does not match.

Matt Parker

It was interesting reading Rodrick's piece when my global politics class with Prof. Dickovick had just finished talking about developing economies and government's role. During that section we examined a couple different articles that looked at the role of the state in developing economies. One such article was by Peter Evans titled, "Predatory, Developmental, and Other Apparatuses: A Comparative Political Economy Perspective on the Third World State." In this piece, Evans also talks about Zaire and the role that Joseph Mobutu Seko has played in depriving the people of Zaire the chance to use the natural resources available so that Seko can profit himself. Evans does not make this point however to condemn state involvement, but rather to point out that it is the quality of state involvement, not quantity that induces growth. Evans would go on to talk about the varying levels of success that countries such as South Korea and Japan would have with heavy state involvement in the economy. Evans piece, I believe, ties in to Rodrik's broader point; that a lot of what goes on in developing economies is context-specific. There is no one "fix-all" method and Rodrik challenges the notion that Western economics holds all the answers (they are models of what COULD be not what IS). I think these sort of case studies are important in identifying varying factors across different economies, which help us understand why things happen the way they do, and hopefully be able to make more accurate predictions and corrections when similar cases develop.

Michael Hegar

Rodrik's "Growth Strategies" brought up some concerning points. Growth can be hard to start but it is even harder to maintain. I never thought about the point he brought up about what causes growth in one country won't necessarily work in another. "A key idea is that institutional arrangements
that prove successful in one country create both positive and negative spillovers for other countries." But as I read about this it made more and more sense. Different cultural, institutional and so many other factors differ from one country to the next. He used the example of Gorbachev trying to mimic a growth strategy that worked in China but was ineffective in the Soviet Union. Like Matt said in his post and Professor Casey often says in class: "it depends." There is no right answer for every country to start to grow and maintain growth. Rather it is a combination of different strategy, circumstances, institutions and policy.

Walker Tiller

After reading from Rodrik's paper's about strategies for growth of economies. I began to think about the section in Rodrik's paper discussing how "Sustaining growth is more difficult than igniting it, and requires more extensive institutional
reform." I think it would be very interesting to discuss this idea and claim in association with China in recent years. I remember just a few years ago China caused a global dip in markets when they were not able to maintain unbelievable growth they had in the past of 8% for the first time. It caused a worldwide stir in the markets with investors questioning the future of all markets when China was only able to achieve 7% growth, not 8%.

My first question is what institutions did China have recently in place to maintain such a high level of growth. Secondly, I wonder how this growth was expected by investors worldwide to continue at such a large rate. And lastly it would be interesting to understand what changes in institutions brought about the decrease in growth for the country, or did the momentum just run out?

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