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New Left Review I/182, July-August 1990


Alice H. Amsden

Third World Industrialization: ‘Global Fordism’ or a New Model?

From the 1960s to the 1970s, industrial output in almost all Third World countries grew rapidly. Growth was especially fast in a subset of developing countries that can be called ‘late industrializers’, countries which industrialized without the competitive asset of being able to monopolize an original technology. Late industrializers include South Korea—the subject of this article—Taiwan, India, Brazil, Mexico, and possibly Turkey. (Japan also qualifies as a late-industrializing country because it, too, started to grow without indigenous technology.) Since the 1980s, stagnation has afflicted the economies of most late-industrializing countries and those of the Third World in general. Yet Korea and Taiwan have continued to grow very rapidly, posing a special puzzle for those who seek to understand different patterns of growth in the world today. Dependency theories of economic development, for instance, have been unable to explain East Asia’s rapid growth, predicting instead underdevelopment as a consequence of international trade and foreign indebtedness; yet exports have been pivotal in the rapid economic expansion of all the East Asian countries, and Korea’s economy has also been highly leveraged on international loans. Nor have market theories of economic growth demonstrated greater explanatory power.

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