Alice H. Amsden

Alice H. Amsden was Barton T. Weller Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Escape from Empire

    Escape from Empire

    The Developing World's Journey through Heaven and Hell

    Alice H. Amsden

    A provocative view of economic growth in the Third World argues that the countries that have achieved steady economic growth—including future economic superpowers India and China—have done so because they have resisted the American ideology of free markets.

    The American government has been both miracle worker and villain in the developing world. From the end of World War II until the 1980s poor countries, including many in Africa and the Middle East, enjoyed a modicum of economic growth. New industries mushroomed and skilled jobs multiplied, thanks in part to flexible American policies that showed an awareness of the diversity of Third World countries and an appreciation for their long-standing knowledge about how their own economies worked. Then during the Reagan era, American policy changed. The definition of laissez-faire shifted from "Do it your way," to an imperial "Do it our way." Growth in the developing world slowed, income inequalities skyrocketed, and financial crises raged. Only East Asian economies resisted the strict prescriptions of Washington and continued to boom. Why?

    In Escape from Empire, Alice Amsden argues provocatively that the more freedom a developing country has to determine its own policies, the faster its economy will grow. America's recent inflexibility—as it has single-mindedly imposed the same rules, laws, and institutions on all developing economies under its influence—has been the backdrop to the rise of two new giants, China and India, who have built economic power in their own way. Amsden describes the two eras in America's relationship with the developing world as "Heaven" and "Hell"—a beneficent and politically savvy empire followed by a dictatorial, ideology-driven one. What will the next American empire learn from the failure of the last? Amsden argues convincingly that the world—and the United States—will be infinitely better off if new centers of power are met with sensible policies rather than hard-knuckled ideologies. But, she asks, can it be done?

    • Hardcover $29.95
    • Paperback $20.00
  • Beyond Late Development

    Beyond Late Development

    Taiwan's Upgrading Policies

    Alice H. Amsden and Wan-Wen Chu

    A study of how latecomers catch up in high-tech industries and modern services, based on an in-depth analysis of Taiwan's premier enterprises and government policies.

    In this book Alice Amsden and Wan-wen Chu cover new ground by analyzing the phenomenon of high-end catch-up. They study how leading firms from the most advanced latecomer countries like Taiwan have increased their market share in mature high-tech industries and services.

    The profits that true innovators in these industries once enjoyed have already declined, but profit rates are still above average. The latecomer firm that succeeds in capturing these rents earns "second-mover" advantage. Amsden and Chu examine the successful second movers in electronics and modern services. The critical factors, they show, are the government policies and large-scale firms that drive skills, speed, and scale. R&D in Taiwan was usually undertaken in conjunction with government labs, which prepared the way for local production of the next hot, mature product. Speed in ramping up at the firm level depended on project execution capabilities and access to capital. Scale proved to be an absolute entry requirement in modern service sectors, and was crucial to win subcontracts from leading foreign firms and to secure key components from world-class suppliers in the electronics industry.

    The authors challenge current orthodoxy along two lines. First, they argue that government played an important role through interventions that went beyond the market model and overcame the limitations of networking. Interventions possibly promoted mature high-tech even more than mid-tech. Second, the entrepreneurs in Taiwan were nationally owned large-scale firms rather than multinational companies.

    • Hardcover $40.00

Contributor

  • Making Aid Work

    Making Aid Work

    Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

    An encouraging account of the potential of foreign aid to reduce poverty and a challenge to all aid organizations to think harder about how they spend their money.

    With more than a billion people now living on less than a dollar a day, and with eight million dying each year because they are simply too poor to live, most would agree that the problem of global poverty is our greatest moral challenge. The large and pressing practical question is how best to address that challenge. Although millions of dollars flow to poor countries, the results are often disappointing. In Making Aid Work, Abhijit Banerjee—an "aid optimist"—argues that aid has much to contribute, but the lack of analysis about which programs really work causes considerable waste and inefficiency, which in turn fuels unwarranted pessimism about the role of aid in fostering economic development. Banerjee challenges aid donors to do better. Building on the model used to evaluate new drugs before they come on the market, he argues that donors should assess programs with field experiments using randomized trials. In fact, he writes, given the number of such experiments already undertaken, current levels of development assistance could focus entirely on programs with proven records of success in experimental conditions. Responding to his challenge, leaders in the field—including Nicholas Stern, Raymond Offenheiser, Alice Amsden, Ruth Levine, Angus Deaton, and others—question whether randomized trials are the most appropriate way to evaluate success for all programs. They raise broader questions as well, about the importance of aid for economic development and about the kinds of interventions (micro or macro, political or economic) that will lead to real improvements in the lives of poor people around the world. With one in every six people now living in extreme poverty, getting it right is crucial.

    • Hardcover $16.95
    • Paperback $13.95