IR491      Half Unit
Globalisation and the State in Developing Countries

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Natalya Naqvi CBG.8.01


This course is available on the MSc in International Political Economy, MSc in International Political Economy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in International Political Economy (Research). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

What role should the state play in economic development? How has globalisation affected what the state can still actually do to promote economic development? Between the 50s and 80s, the East Asian ‘developmental state’ model delivered rapid industrialisation through extensive state intervention, seemingly refuting not only the claims of free market economics, but also of dependency theory: that poor countries could never develop due to the very nature of the capitalist world system.

Since the 80s, the applicability of the East Asian model was challenged in new ways. Structural changes in the global political economy, including the end of fixed exchange rates, increased capital mobility, the development of international financial markets, privatisation of the commanding heights of the economy, the proliferation of restrictive trade and investment agreements, and the rise of global value chains, led many to argue that even if it was economically beneficial for other countries to implement the East Asian model, this was no longer possible because globalisation had dramatically constrained the power of the nation state. Others argued that concerns over the constraints posed by globalisation were overblown, and that domestic interests, institutions, and ideas were responsible for holding back structural transformation of the economy.

This course will combine debates in IPE, over how the process of globalisation has transformed the capacity for state action, with debates in the political economy of development over the role of the state in the process of late development. Students will gain an understanding not only of the debate over how much domestic policy autonomy developing countries have after globalisation, but also of the kinds of policies they need this policy space for. Problems of underdevelopment are approached through the prism of both core-periphery power relations, and power relations arising from the domestic productive structure. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Make theoretically informed arguments in written and oral form, supported by empirical evidence on key questions in the study of globalization and late development
  2. Critically engage (understand and be able to point out the weaknesses and strengths of) with various theoretical approaches (dependency, developmentalist, liberal, Marxist) to the study of late development
  3. Critically engage with various theoretical approaches (hyperglobalists, constraints school, sceptics, compensation hypothesis) to the study of globalisation 
  4. Apply these theoretical frameworks to concrete empirical situations
  5. Undertake empirical research on country cases drawing on relevant theory in the study of late development and globalisation


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the AT.

Formative coursework

For formative assessment, students will receive feedback on a plan of their final research essay. Personalised feedback on research design, literature choice, and argument will be given. This will provide students with the opportunity to refine their work prior to grading. 

Students will also get feedback on power point presentations on a seminar question applied to their chosen country case. This will further help students prepare for their final research essay. The feedback will focus not only on academic content, but also presentation skills.

Indicative reading

  • Kicking Away the Ladder, Ha Joon Chang
  • States and Markets, Susan Strange
  • States Versus Markets, Herman Schwartz
  • Globalisation in Question, Hirst, Thompson and Bromley
  • The Myth of the Powerless State, Linda Weiss
  • Reclaiming Development Economics, Chang and Grabel
  • The Developmental State, Woo-Cummings
  • Business and the State in Developing Countries, Maxfield and Schneider


Essay (90%, 3000 words) in the WT Week 1.
Class participation (10%).

A summative seminar participation grade will be given (10%). This will reflect engagement with the lectures and readings. This will enhance the quality of seminar discussion, ensuring that students get the most out of contact hours, and get the most out of interactions with their peers. 

A research essay of 3000 words will count for 90% of the grade. It entails applying concepts, theory, and arguments from weeks 1-9 to a country case study. Since students will have to go beyond the set reading list in order to find material for their case study, the assessment method will also develop their research skills.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills