Minns argues that the industrial transformations of Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan were based on the existence of powerful developmentalist states in each. The book explores the origins of these states and their dynamics and connects the form of autonomy they enjoy within their countries to the policies they pursue and the way in which they negotiate their position within the world economy. However, the causes of the decline of the developmentalist state are already present at its birth. The author argues that the circumstances that gave rise to the developmentalism of these states were unique to each. The ability to conduct ruthless but focused developmental policies for several decades was a consequence. Not only were these powers rare, they were also transitory. The very success of these three states in promoting industrialization changed the social structure of their countries dramatically and, in so doing, altered both the pressures on the developmentalist state and its internal composition. There followed a rapid retreat from developmentalism.

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