New Maps for Africa? Contextualising the 'Chinese Model' within Ethiopian and Kenyan Paradigms of Development

Fourie, Elsje (2013) New Maps for Africa? Contextualising the 'Chinese Model' within Ethiopian and Kenyan Paradigms of Development. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


Since the early 2000s, there has been a sharp increase in speculations that China’s development trajectory may provide a model for other developing countries—particularly those in Africa—to follow, and that this poses a profound challenge to the dominant global development paradigm. A highly-charged media and policy debate has increasingly made its way into the academic literature, with central questions focusing around the lessons that African and developing countries are drawing from China and around the desirability of such emulation. Due to the exploratory and recent nature of this growing literature, however, very few studies have been sufficiently grounded in empirical or theoretical analysis. This dissertation seeks to remedy this situation by examining the ideational influence of China’s development on those ultimately charged with evaluating and implementing these purported ‘models’: developing country elites. Drawing on the theories of cross-societal emulation (Westney 1987) and lesson-drawing (Rose 1991), it finds that elites in two countries cases—Ethiopia and Kenya-indeed seek to emulate countries in East Asia. China, however, is viewed as only one source of potential ‘lessons’, and its elites often embed its experiences within a wider East Asian development trajectory. In both country cases, this emulation challenges many of the assumptions that have driven development since the 1970s. Unlike the Washington Consensus, the development paradigm prompted by this lesson-drawing is historically-contingent and views nation-building by a strong, visionary political leadership as the country’s single most important priority. Because it favours large physical infrastructure projects, rapid economic growth, technologically-optimistic solutions and a civilisatory discourse, its divergence from the more recent ‘Augmented’ Washington Consensus is even more striking. In these and in other central lessons drawn, the development approach it most resembles, in fact, is the modernisation theory of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite the fact that both Kenya and Ethiopia thus possess modernising elites that seek to emulate aspects of the East Asian experience, different dynamics drive the process in each national context. In Ethiopia, a country slowly emerging from a history of communism and isolationism, a strong and ideologically unified ruling party looks to China, South Korea and other countries with a history of strong state intervention. In Kenya, by contrast, a coalition of business leaders, technocrats and planners view Singapore and Malaysia as potential models by virtue of a shared colonial history and divergent post-colonial path. Kenya’s vision, whilst more moderate, is also more constrained due to the relative lack of influence its modernisers wield in the political process. In both cases, historical factors bound and condition elites’ choice of model. The emerging literature on the ‘Chinese Model’ of development deserves credit for beginning to theoretically and empirically substantiate an important current policy debate, but it also vastly underestimates the importance of its predecessors. Given the extent to which Ethiopian and Kenyan elites root their emulation in the region as a whole, the East Asian ‘developmental state’ model is one such fore-runner. Most importantly, however, this emulation illustrates the enduring topicality of many of the assumptions of modernisation theory—assumptions that are likely to play a central role in informing African and even global development paradigms in the future.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:XXIV
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/13 STORIA E ISTITUZIONI DELL'AFRICA
Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS-P/01 ECONOMIA POLITICA
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/04 SCIENZA POLITICA
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/06 STORIA DELLE RELAZIONI INTERNAZIONALI
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/09 SOCIOLOGIA DEI PROCESSI ECONOMICI E DEL LAVORO
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ethiopia, Kenya, development, modernisation, emulation, Chinese Model, Beijing Consensus, East Asian Model, lesson-drawing, Washington Consensus, Africa, elites
Repository Staff approval on:15 Mar 2013 13:11

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