Managing Change in the Twenty First Century
Chapter 8: Should Political Openness Precede Economic Openness? The Asian Experience
Many analyses of the ‘Third Wave’ of democratization that commenced in the 1980s presumed that the political freedom and openness of democracy went hand-in-hand with the economic freedom and openness of laissez-faire economics. Both, for instance, placed their prime emphasis on ndividual freei dom and choice. Thus, there were predictions that the expansion of political freedom in the Third Wave would fuel greater economic openness, thereby producing faster growth and human development (Dawson, 1998; Friedman, 1962; Huntington, 1991). Yet, a moment’s thought would suggest that this virtuous cycle might be more than a little questionable. On the one hand, greater economic openness could concentrate resources in the hands of groups who could use them to distort the political processes; on the other, newly empowered groups could seek to enrich themselves through political rather than economic activities. Furthermore, as we demonstrated in Chapter 7, even the very successful export-led development of many Asian nations, which might appear to be quintessential ‘economic openness’, relied upon an important state role in the economy. This chapter, hence, explores the question raised by the Third Wave of whether political openness should precede economic openness. The first section discusses the relationship between economic and political openness, which serves as the theoretical foundation for the three cases studies considered here. The next section examines how India’s immediate political openness created significant problems; then it is shown that authoritarian China was able to pursue economic openness but also that the lack of political openness in the PRC still...
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