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An Institutionalist Take on State Activism in Economic Development: A Theoretical Framework

Author: JAMES J. WILSON
Published in IJED, Vol. 1 No. 3

This article explores theoretical aspects of state activism in economic development to address specific gaps in the literature. I content that state economic development is a complex and dynamic phenomenon which can not be adequately conceptualized nor modeled using ad hoc classification systems, taxonomies, nor conceptual frameworks. Instead, I propose a theoretical framework which has two principal governmental functions. Each function is defined by a typology of four policy types which are theoretically grounded and organized within an institutional framework. This theoretical system addresses the limitations of efforts to account for foundational economic determinants of state development and to assess both the linkages between policy types as well as the linkages between state economic development and institutions. The narrow and often competing perspectives of previous studies can present a distorted picture of state activism in economic development. This study seeks to present a clearer and comprehensive description of this phenomenon.

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