University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Coordinating States and Workforce Development in the U.S.

Allen Hicken, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan
Brian Ritche, Michigan State University

a 2006 CLOSUP Small Grants Program award

Abstract:
This project investigates the political economy of workforce development in several U.S. states. Literatures in Sociology, Political Science and Economics have all addressed the question of the role states play in economic development. In the context of developing states in southeast Asia, the project team has begun to identify key characteristics of successful cases that deviate in important respects from existing models. In particular, they have recognized that the developmental, regulatory, and predatory state models have empirical and theoretical shortcomings. Empirically, successful states have employed a mix of strategies that do not fit easily in any one existing model. Theoretically, it is clear that development now requires a different set of tasks that these models are ill-equipped to address. No longer can states rely on a hands-off, regulatory approach to development. Nor do they have the capacity to control and manage these newer more difficult tasks in the top-down fashion envisioned in the developmental state model. The researchers argue that "coordinating states" are emerging as a successful institutional solution to the developmental challenges and tasks that governments now face.

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