The developmental state in Brazil: Comparative and historical perspectives

Vol. 35 No. 1 (2015)

Jan-Mar / 2015
Published January 1, 2015

How to Cite

Ross Schneider, Ben. 2015. “The Developmental State in Brazil: Comparative and Historical Perspectives”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 35 (1):114-32.

The developmental state in Brazil: Comparative and historical perspectives

Ben Ross Schneider
Department of Political Science, MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 35 No. 1 (2015), Jan-Mar / 2015, Pages 114-132


The record of successful developmental states in East Asia and the partial successes of developmental states in Latin America suggest several common preconditions for effective state intervention including a Weberian bureaucracy, monitoring of implementation, reciprocity (subsidies in exchange for performance), and collaborative relations between government and business. Although Brazil failed to develop the high technology manufacturing industry and exports that have fueled sustained growth in East Asia, its developmental state had a number of important, and often neglected, successes, especially in steel, automobiles, mining, ethanol, and aircraft manufacturing. Where Brazil’s developmental state was less successful was in promoting sectors like information technology and nuclear energy, as well as overall social and regional equality. In addition, some isolated initiatives by state governments were also effective in promoting particular local segments of industry and agriculture. Comparisons with East Asia, highlight the central role of state enterprises in Brazil that in effect internalized monitoring and reciprocity and bypassed collaboration between business and government (that was overall rarer in Brazil).

JEL Classification: O14; O25; O54.

Keywords: developmental state industrial policy state owned enterprise Brazil