Northeast Asian Development and the Problem of Rights: Challenges for a New Developmental State

13 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2009


Once seemingly consigned to the dustbin of history by the rise of market-centered theories of development, the "developmental state" is staging a comeback in economic development circles. Associated primarily with interventionist development strategies employed in Latin America and Northeast Asia from the 1950s through the 1970s, the concept is being raised today in connection with economic policies in places as diverse as Brazil, Venezuela, and various other countries in Latin America, China, Ireland, Lebanon, Botswana, South Africa, and other African countries. It is far too early to claim that there is any clearly agreed upon content to the term, but at least at the rhetorical level the renewed interest is clear. In the centers of global economic policy the consensus seems gone from the free-market, free-trade "Washington Consensus," while countries in the developing world are once again openly experimenting with a range of interventionist measures to foster economic development. Not all of these moves toward government intervention have explicitly invoked the developmental state idea, but programs such as industrial policies to foster infant industries and to guide foreign investment, or the creation of state-controlled development banks charged with channeling capital to select national industries, clearly represent a return to the more state-centric views of development associated with the earlier era. What a revived developmental state might mean for economic development is not the main focus of this paper, which will focus instead on what this trend, if it proves real, could mean for law and legal institutions in developing countries.

Keywords: China Asian Law, New Developmental State, Law and Economic Development, Bejing Consensus, Developmental State, Industrial Policy, Comparative Law

JEL Classification: K00, N40, O00, O29, P50

Suggested Citation

Ohnesorge, John Karl Murat, Northeast Asian Development and the Problem of Rights: Challenges for a New Developmental State. Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1067, Available at SSRN: or

John Karl Murat Ohnesorge (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )

975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-7603 (Phone)


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