• technological trajectories;
  • veto players;
  • external threats;
  • domestic resources;
  • structural vulnerabilities


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Role of Political Institutions: Veto Players
  5. Structural Sources of Institutions for Innovation
  6. Conclusion
  7. About the Authors
  8. References

In this article, we seek to rectify the absence of political analysis characterizing most literature on innovation and development. Although existing research is careful to note the lack of any single recipe or model of innovation, most scholars identify a range of institutions and policies influencing innovative performance. But such explanations beg the question of where institutions, so critical to policy implementation, actually come from. We argue that the answer lies in (1) the desire of political leaders to promote innovation and related institutions, and (2) the structure of political arrangements—especially the number of actors with the power and interest to block or promote reform—through which leaders must operate. We argue that both of these variables are strongly influenced by the threats facing leaders and the resources available to address such threats.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Role of Political Institutions: Veto Players
  5. Structural Sources of Institutions for Innovation
  6. Conclusion
  7. About the Authors
  8. References

In this article, we seek to rectify the lack of political analysis characterizing most literature on innovation and development. This gap is not for want of attention to the importance of innovation for development. Indeed, the innovation process has become increasingly central to the study and practice of growth as developing countries are exposed to both shorter product cycles and more intense competition driven by liberalized trade and investment regimes. Thus, a recent World Bank study of East Asia argues that sustained growth in the region's higher-income countries requires “staying abreast of the latest technological developments elsewhere and producing a steady stream of innovations,” while middle- and lower-income countries must complement progress on price, quality, and delivery with product and design innovations in existing industries, such as garments and agroprocessing (Yusuf, 2003, p. 142).

Although observers are careful to note the lack of any single recipe or model of innovation (e.g., Hill, 2004), most identify a range of institutions and policies influencing innovative performance. The National Innovation Systems (NIS) framework highlights the importance of “economic” institutions, such as corporate governance rules, financial institutions, property rights, public–private consultation, R&D institutions, education and training organizations, university–industry ties, interfirm collaboration systems, and rules to ensure competitive market structures (e.g., Nelson, 1993).2 The array of innovation-promoting policies is quite broad, ranging from relatively generic measures supporting openness in trade and foreign investment, fluid labor markets for skilled workers, and the sharing of ideas among firms, to more targeted measures, such as extension services, designed to accelerate new competencies at the sectoral level.3 Variation in such institutions and policies helps to explain, for example, cross-national differences in innovative performance by local electronics producers in two countries, Thailand and Singapore, operating in the same industry (hard disk drives) for identical periods of time with the same set of foreign producers (McKendrick, Doner, & Haggard, 2000).

But such explanations beg the question of where institutions, so critical to policy implementation, actually come from.4 This failure to account for institutional origins undermines our ability to get at the root of differences, such as the Thailand–Singapore contrast noted above. We argue that such an explanation lies in (1) the desire of political leaders to promote innovation and related institutions, and (2) the structure of political arrangements—especially the number of actors with the power and interest to block or promote reform—through which leaders must operate. We argue that both of these variables are strongly influenced by the threats facing leaders and the resources available to address such threats. Before fleshing out this argument, it is useful to justify the need for a political approach to institutions for innovation.

Our starting point is the finding that while institutions ideally solve collective action problems, their very creation is a challenge—a second-order collective action problem that requires resources and long time horizons. Indeed, successful institutions, i.e., those that promote development, are rarely importable. Rather than codified, they are best understood as reflecting tacit kinds of knowledge, like the innovation process itself, that emerge “locally, relying on hands-on experience, local knowledge, and experimentation” (Rodrik, 2007, p. 164).

One solution to the challenge of institutional creation, found in some new institutional economics literature, lies in market incentives: institutions emerge and change as the result of choices by private parties to enhance mutual welfare in response to shifts in factor prices. But as Robert Bates (1988, 1995) has argued, institutions typically emerge not from some automatic response to potential gains from trade, but out of the rough and tumble of politics. Political leaders or “ruling elites” are thus key to the creation of institutional capacities, whether in the bureaucracy, the private sector, or public–private networks (Schneider & Maxfield, 1997). But in democratic, as well as authoritarian regimes, political leaders' goals of securing power often encourage a focus on short-term economic strategies designed to bring a quick political return. These might include growth strategies that emphasize the mobilization of existing factors of production (so-called accumulation strategies) or clientelist arrangements designed to channel largesse to key constituencies interested in quick profits through rents or speculation (Geddes, 1994).

Such short-term, power-enhancing tendencies fit poorly with the need to address the particular difficulties of innovation, a process we understand as the diffusion of a product, process, or practice that is “new,” not necessarily to the world, but to a particular firm or group of firms (Kuznetsov, 2004). This process is rooted in a firm's internal competencies, including its “absorptive capacity” to recognize the value of new information, assimilate it, and to apply it to commercial ends (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990). But the development of such competencies requires risks, lots of time, and multiple partners, some of whom are foreign.5 It involves iterative discovery processes in which firms (and farms) draw on the resources of others, including competitors, buyers, suppliers of intermediates and capital equipment, company-oriented service providers, public research institutions, universities, and relevant state agencies (Nelson, 1993). Innovation also involves investments whose payoffs are uncertain and typically take time to emerge.

Why then would political leaders, normally preoccupied with short-term, power-enhancing objectives, devote time and resources to create institutions required for a process characterized by “uncertainty and long gestation periods” (Hill, 2004, p. 355)? This question “underline[s] the links between innovation and a country's political and institutional structures” (p. 355). One response is simply to include “political leadership at the top” as a key part of a country's institutional architecture (Rodrik, 2007, p. 113). This is useful insofar as it highlights political leaders' role in raising the profile of industrial transformation, as well as in pushing public agencies and monitoring their behavior. But this again simply begs the question of political leaders' motivations: why do a small number of political leaders play these “virtuous” roles whereas most others do not?

Our answer focuses on the factors influencing leaders' will to create institutions for innovation and their ability to do so.6 Political leaders, we suggest, expend valuable resources to promote developmental institutions, e.g., coherent bureaucratic agencies, strong public–private linkages, and comprehensive business associations, only under significant pressure. The most extreme set of pressures involves “systemic vulnerability” (Doner, Ritchie, & Slater, 2005). When elites require resources to address external security and (domestic) popular political pressures but lack easily accessible resources with which to satisfy these claims, they are more prone to promote institutional arrangements through which to generate resources.

But even if political elites want to promote productivity improvements, they must work through political institutions that provide some actors with the authority to block changes to the status quo.7George Tsebelis (2002) labels such actors “veto players” and identifies two types: institutional veto players generated by a constitution or other official rules of the political game, and partisan veto players generated by the political game itself (p. 19). For our purposes, the latter type of veto player—both their number and divergence of preferences among them—is central in identifying what Cox and McCubbins (2000, p. 26) label the effective number of veto players.8

Veto players are important, first because they influence the ability of leaders to respond to shocks. Whereas political analyses often presume that “political systems should be able to respond to exogenous shocks,” the veto player approach makes no such assumption (Tsebelis, 2002, p. 204). Instead, the approach identifies the ways in which political institutions affect two dimensions of leaders' abilities to change institutions. Veto players influence political leaders' abilities (1) to adapt decisively to new market conditions (i.e., to change when necessary), and (2) to be resolute (i.e., credible) enough that private economic actors will undertake often risky investments (MacIntyre, 2002).

This article extends the veto player framework in two ways. First, whereas most existing research focuses on how veto players influence macroeconomic policy, an area in which credibility is especially important,9 we explore their impact on innovation, an area requiring a combination of decisiveness and resoluteness. To anticipate, our core finding is that large and very small numbers of veto players effectively undermine the creation of innovation-promoting institutions, unless offset by hybrid arrangements that overcome problems of decisiveness through delegation and problems of credibility through consultation.

Second, we seek to explain or “endogenize” veto players themselves or hybrid arrangements designed to overcome inherent weaknesses of different veto player arrangements. To do so, we return to vulnerability pressures as key influences on the number of effective veto players. We propose that the effective number of veto players is best understood as an intervening variable between vulnerability pressures and innovation-related institutions. More specifically, we argue that high levels of vulnerability pressures result not only in innovation efforts, but also generate strong incentives for hybrid institutional solutions to the problems caused by either too many or too few veto players—thus allowing both decisiveness and resoluteness. Conversely, low vulnerability levels allow for either a permissive environment with many veto players and accompanying decisiveness difficulties, or, alternatively, a single veto player, but without the institutions necessary to insure policy credibility.

Empirically, we assess these arguments through qualitative analysis that focuses largely on Thailand while drawing more briefly on the experiences of Singapore, Israel, and Brazil. Thailand offers an opportunity to examine weak innovative performance over time in an otherwise very successful country that has faced fluctuating but generally quite moderate vulnerability pressures. Thailand achieved stunning GDP growth rates and has diversified out of a small number of agricultural products to become a global export leader in a wide range of agricultural and industrial goods. Its performance made it one of the World Bank's (1993) “High Performing Asian Economies.” Yet this impressive performance has been due largely to the efficient accumulation and mobilization of factor inputs “rather than improvements in productivity” (Nipon & Somkiat, 2001, p. 118). These weaknesses emerged in the mid-late 1990s, when the country's labor-intensive exports plunged, the stock market dropped, and Thailand became the first victim of the 1997 Asian economic crisis, transforming from “a miracle to needing one” (Warr, 1997, 1998). As Thailand began to face new, low-wage competitors, such as India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the country experienced sharp increases in wage rates during the early 1990s, increases that were “not matched by an increase in labour productivity” (Nipon & Somkiat, 2001, p. 122). The mid-1990s marked the “end of the era of ‘cheap labor’ ” (Warr, 1998, p. 57): Thailand had essentially lost its comparative advantage in labor-intensive manufactured goods after only a decade. Thai manufacturers do not seem to have used “their temporary low production cost advantage as a stepping-stone for the creation of more durable competitive advantages based on productivity, quality, and timeliness” (Lauridsen, 2002, p. 159).

The country's postcrisis growth rates have recovered, in large part due to the export dynamism of its agricultural and manufacturing sectors. But indigenous productivity problems remain, as reflected in the fact that manufactured goods are based largely on foreign technology and inputs (Doner, 2009, chap. 2). World Bank studies have concluded that “total factor productivity (TFP) growth has contributed little to Thailand's growth over the last 30 years and currently lags those of its competitors” (World Bank, 2006, p. 1). Indeed, during the 1990s, “many East Asian economies achieved rates of output growth similar to Thailand's with lower rates of investment” (Nipon & Somkiat, 2001, p. 118). In 2006, the World Bank emphasized that sustained growth would require domestic innovation and technological development.

Thailand's uneven performance—impressive diversification but weak innovation—does not reflect any deliberate neglect of upgrading-related measures, such as education and technical training. Indeed, as we demonstrate below, Thai academics, officials, and entrepreneurs have initiated numerous efforts in these areas. The problem lies rather in the fact that meeting the challenges of innovation requires institutional capacities not found in Thailand owing to multiple veto player arrangements and largely moderate vulnerability pressures.

We contrast and complement the Thai case with brief examinations of three countries—Singapore, Israel, and Brazil (the latter during the military rule from 1964–1985). These three have achieved greater success in innovation than has Thailand, an outcome we attribute to the presence of hybrid arrangements designed to overcome problems inherent in either single veto player (Singapore and Brazil) or many veto player countries (Israel). These arrangements are in turn the result of high levels of vulnerability. Together, these four countries thus permit both cross- and within-case analysis. Comparing Singapore and Israel constitutes a “most-different” design: the two countries differ significantly with regard to the number of partisan veto players, but resemble each other in high levels of vulnerability, the development of hybrid institutions, and successful innovation. Confronting a clear increase in vulnerability after enjoying relatively benign conditions, Brazil constitutes a weaker version of the Singapore model that nevertheless confirms our core arguments regarding the impact of resource constraints and threats. Finally, Thailand's experience is useful in a most-similar comparison with Israel: whereas both have exhibited multiple veto players in fractious coalitional governments, the two differ significantly with regard to levels of systemic threats, and, as a result, the existence of arrangements to resolve problems of decisiveness.

The rest of the article proceeds as follows: The next section provides theoretical and empirical backing for our argument that veto players “count,” i.e., that an institutional environment that combines decisiveness and resoluteness is necessary for innovation. We trace this dynamic in some detail in the Thai case, focusing on post-1997 crisis efforts in education and technical training, part of a broader innovation-related effort known as the Industrial Restructuring Project (IRP). The section concludes with brief examinations of the contrasting Singapore, Brazil, and Israel cases. These contrasting capacities for decisiveness and credibility demand explanation, a task we address in the third section by examining the impact of systemic vulnerability on political institutions and complementary arrangements. We find that high, sustained levels of vulnerability result in the adoption of institutional solutions to decisiveness difficulties associated with a large number of veto players (in the case of Israel) or the credibility problems linked to a single veto player (Singapore, Brazil). Low–moderate and less sustained spikes in vulnerability typically result in unstable shifts in the number of effective veto players, butno lasting equilibrium that balances decisiveness and credibility. The last section summarizes our findings and identifies avenues for further research—especially the impact of founding bargains.

The Role of Political Institutions: Veto Players

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Role of Political Institutions: Veto Players
  5. Structural Sources of Institutions for Innovation
  6. Conclusion
  7. About the Authors
  8. References

The structure of political authority, reflected in the effective number of veto players, matters for innovation by shaping the incentives and capabilities of policy-makers (e.g., Cox & McCubbins, 2000; MacIntyre, 2002; Perrson & Tabellini, 2003; Tsebelis, 2002). As discussed in the previous section, central to the literature on veto players is the trade-off between two necessary features of “good government”: decisiveness and resoluteness (or credibility).10 Other things being equal, the fewer the effective veto players, the more decisive a government.11 A large number of veto players, on the other hand, discourage change while promoting resoluteness, i.e., the tendency of key actors to stick to decisions once they are made. Where resoluteness is lacking, a government's credibility and its implementation capacity will suffer. The Thai case, explored in the next subsection, illustrates the difficulty in achieving both decisiveness and resoluteness. However, countries with successful innovation policies are able to find a balance between the decisiveness and resoluteness.12 We briefly explore the latter dynamic in Singapore, Israel, and Brazil at the end of this section.

Thailand: Multiple Veto Players and Weak Institutions for Innovation

Pre-1997 Crisis— Between the early 1990s and 2007, Thailand's political system exhibited significant fragmentation interrupted by a moderate but brief consolidation following the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Prior to the crisis, with multiple, factionalized parties contesting for power, cabinets became the focus of political conflict, leading in turn to unstable governing coalitions. Scandals brought down all four of the coalition governments between 1988 and 1997.13 According to Andrew MacIntyre (2002, p. 60), there were no less than six veto players in the government of Chavalit Yongchaiyudh in power at the time of the financial crisis.

This fragmented political structure undermined the country's development-related institutions. Parties used ministerial positions to enhance factional power in a continuing process of logrolls (e.g., Pasuk & Baker, 2000, p. 138). The house speaker during the (1995–1996) government of Banharn Silpa-archa declared that corruption took half of all budget project funds (Pasuk & Baker, 1998, p. 260). Legislation was narrowly focused, with little if any developmental vision (Ammar, 1997, p. 8). Political leaders sacked the governing board and weakened the oversight capacity of the country's chief planning agency; they took control of key technology agencies, including the Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (Thitinan, 2001, pp. 83–85), and they generally discouraged cohesion and innovation-related initiatives in key ministries, including Industry, Agriculture, Education, Interior, Labor and Social Welfare, and University Affairs. Frequent cabinet and government turnover also meant that proposed or initiated innovation-related measures rarely found any lasting traction. Not surprisingly, efforts to improve education and training suffered as redistributive politics flourished.Indeed, education and training were among the highest sources of graft and corruption in Thailand (Pasuk & Sungsidh, 1994).

Some of the innovation-related consequences of Thailand's multiple veto player environment were manifest in the areas of university autonomy and technical/vocational training. Thai officials and business leaders had been concerned about the lack of linkages between universities and the country's private sector for at least two decades.14 University autonomy was seen as a mechanism through which to provide incentives for faculty to undertake research helpful to local producers. Yet vested interests within the universities and political jousting over control of relevant ministries impeded reform. Concerns with the quality of vocational and technical training had emerged since the early 1990s, as Thailand was beginning to lose its comparative advantage in low-wage labor. But actual changes were undermined by conflicting interests on the part of business and labor, by parties' focus on rural rather than urban issues, and by bureaucratic turf conflicts, and by reinforcing political influence in relevant agencies (Ritchie, 2008). In short, there were multiple interests opposed to education and training reform, and Thailand's multiple veto player environment provided numerous points at which these interests could access the policy-making process and block or water down proposed policy reforms. Thus, despite the manifest need for reform, all Thailand was able to achieve during this period was a weak training program to reimburse students for the loans assumed to fund their own training.

The Crisis and Its Aftermath—1997–2000— In the wake of the 1997 economic crisis a more technocratic government led by Chuan Leekpai took power and remained in office until 2000. Sharply aware of the limits to low-wage growth and the need for improved technological capacity, the government intensified upgrading efforts under a broad program to promote upgrading known as the IRP.15 Launched in late 1997 and led by a respected technocrat, the IRP aimed to upgrade 13 sectors through eight sets of measures ranging from equipment modernization to labor skills to product design. The overall policy for the program was developed through intensive consultation led by the Ministry of Industry. Industry and government collaboration led to 400 program proposals, from which 24 were chosen as part of the IRP's first “action plan.” Under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry, the IRP convened a committee, including officials from the Ministry of Education, University Affairs, and private sector business leaders, to restructure Thai universities. From their coordinated input came the basis for the Education Act of 1999, which mandated a transition of all universities to autonomous status by 2005 (NEC, 2000). At the same time, the IRP successfully encouraged the Department of Skills Development (DSD) to create a skills development fund to encourage firms to conduct training. With broad support, the DSD submitted a policy that would levy a 1 percent tax (equal to what was being levied in both Singapore and Malaysia), to which business agreed, on the condition that the levy would not be adjusted upwards at any time in the future. The draft bill was sent to the cabinet in 1998.16

The Chuan government was, however, a minority-led coalition involving eight factionalized parties, a fractious legislature, and four cabinet reshuffles (Chalmers, 2003, p. 254). Ministerial turnover was frequent, as parties and factions strove to gain control of those agencies with the greatest potential for resource control (Bidhya, 2001, p. 291). The level of political competition for ministerial resources was especially intense due to the looming implementation of a new constitution. With the number of cabinet seats slated to fall from 49 to 35, the parties engaged in a “feeding frenzy” for control of ministries (Overholt, 1999, p. 1023; cf. also Chalmers, 2003, p. 256).

The persistence of such political fragmentation undermined university reform and skills development. Although the education act was passed into law in 1999, the process of transitioning the universities to autonomous status bogged down in the face of uncertainty as to the government's commitment and financial support for the transition out of state control and funding (Brimble & Doner, 2007, p. 1031). Only a handful of private universities that were well on their way to autonomous status before the crisis successfully made the transition. The evidence also suggests that even if passed, the training initiative would have encountered similar problems as the education bill. Although the DSD convened a consultative group of business owners and government officials for input on how to reform education and training, no business, labor, or academic representatives attended the meetings, and no one other than the DSD had any hand in actually creating the policy. But more problematic, there was little if any negotiation over how the program would be implemented. Firms were worried that the DSD lacked the capacity and the probity to manage the program well. Finally, political fragmentation sabotaged the IRP itself. Despite its auspicious start, by the year 2000, a senior Ministry of Industry (MOI) official labeled the IRP a failure, as weak business associations and fragmented and turf-conscious ministries led to confusion, discouragement, and misinformation (Doner, 2009, chap. 4).

Thaksin—2001–200617 In early 2001, a new government under Thaksin Shinawatra promised to address Thailand's competitiveness problems. Thaksin's focus on upgrading and innovation was striking for its departure from past governments' lukewarm attention to real sector problems. His advisors spoke of how Thailand was caught in a nutcracker created by the combination of cost pressure from low-cost rivals and technology pressure from more advanced competitors. His government was explicit in its intention to move the country further up the value chain and away from excessive dependence on exports that used cheap labor to produce goods relying on foreign technology and investment. The emphasis was on sector-specific strategies to improve local capacities and linkages in areas such as autos, textiles, and electronics. Complementing such goals was an explicit commitment to overhaul the educational structure.

To back up this pledge, Thaksin initially backed the National Education Act (1999), consolidated operations of the Ministry of Education, and established a series of new agencies ranging from an Office of Education to supervisory commissions for basic, vocational, and higher education (Somporn, 2004). Reform of the education structure was just one in an impressive series of institutional initiatives. Other initiatives included: designating the Industry Ministry's Office of Industrial Economics as the key source for information on productivity and linkages, ordering the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) to oversee the development of sector-specific “master plans” and the Board of Investments (BOI) to focus on technology development and cluster promotion rather than employment, elevating the status of the industry-specific institutes devoted to productivity improvement, establishing a National Committee on Competitiveness and a National IT Committee, and proposing the integration of industrial and export promotion through a merger of the Commerce and Industry Ministries into a Thai-style Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

These decisive moves reflected a combination of nationalist–industrializing impulses and Thailand's political shift from a multiple veto player environment to one dominated by a single veto player. Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party came to power with impressive electoral strength. The party co-opted or allied with other parties to eventually create a 70 percent parliamentary majority that allowed it to do what no other elected government had done—survive a full four-year term. After winning roughly two-thirds of the popular vote in the next (2005) elections, Thaksin could govern without a coalition partner or any fear of a parliamentary censure vote. This success reflected Thaksin's ability to take advantage of the new, 1997 Constitution (Hicken, 2006), and his attention to the concerns of both local business and the rural poor.18 He flirted with economic nationalism in defending large, local firms threatened by globalization in the form of the 1997 crisis and the subsequent increase in foreign economic influence. For these firms, the TRT provided investment privileges, debt relief, new credit, delayed privatization, access to state contracts, and a seat at the policy-making table.

But the actual reduction in the number of veto players was less than initially apparent. Thaksin's electoral success reflected his ability to translate rural and business support into a coalition of multiple parties and factions. This meant that while Thaksin and TRT worked to centralize bureaucracy-based patronage in order to co-opt other parties and satisfy TRT factions, there was little progress towards institutional strengthening in other areas. Thaksin raised the number of ministries and departments from 14 and 126, respectively, to 20 and 143, thus broadening patronage opportunities while destabilizing organizational operations. He also presided over eight cabinet reshuffles involving 55 individual new appointments from 2001 to 2004. The Education Ministry had five different ministers from 2001 through 2004, and science and technology institutions suffered from conflicting pressures and internal disputes (Fry, 2002, p. 13; Somporn, 2004).

Such political competition and instability naturally impeded reforms in education and training. University autonomy stalled, as did vocational training initiatives. Instead of resurrecting and passing the dormant Skills Development Act that had previously expired in the parliament during the transition to Thaksin's power, powerful business interests, to which Thaksin was both aligned and beholden, eviscerated the act to reduce businesses' direct responsibility for training. Rather than be responsible for paying into a skills development fund up front, firms argued that they should only be responsible for the levy if it was found they were not training. The onus for ensuring that training actually took place fell to the DSD, which had neither the capacity nor motivation to carry out the required monitoring and enforcement. Thaksin proposed to fill the resource need for funding worker training by taking a percentage of the current worker compensation funding. But this meant that only unemployed workers would receive training.

One other sector-specific initiative illustrates this dynamic: to address the lack of technical personnel in electronics, the Thai BOI, together with the Department of Vocational Education (DOVE) and the Electronics and Computer Employers Association, developed curricular materials for five electronics training modules to be used at local vocational institutions. But owing to leadership changes at both DOVE and the BOI, the initiative ran out of bureaucratic and political steam; the completed curricula lay unused on a BOI shelf.19

Delegation and Consultation as Solutions to Veto Player Problems

If the Thai case demonstrates the dangers of too few veto players (i.e., early Thaksin) and too many veto players (i.e., pre-Thaksin and latter Thaksin), Singapore, Israel, and Brazil suggest ways of balancing credibility and decisiveness under either single or multiple veto player arrangements. Indeed, Hicken and Ritchie (2002) argue that the dichotomy between decisiveness and credibility is often drawn too starkly. While there is an inherent tension between the two concepts, certain configurations of institutions and coalitions make it possible for governments to be both credible and decisive simultaneously. What that balance looks like varies from country context—both in terms of the design of particular solutions to this trade-off, and in terms of the weight given to each part of the trade-off. We can, however, identify two broad approaches to successfully addressing this trade-off.

Where decision-making authority is highly concentrated, single formal veto players can deal with the risks of low credibility by actively recruiting the participation of actors with a stake in innovation process (e.g., business groups, educational institutions, and labor). In Singapore, for example, the cohesive and disciplined People's Action Party (PAP), controls all the levers of power. Yet the PAP engages with a coalition of private interests that does more than just consult with the government. It plays an active role in the design, implementation, and monitoring of policy. The deep participation by these actors ties politicians' hands, raises the barriers to rapid policy reversals, and hence bolsters policy credibility (Hicken & Ritchie, 2002).

The case of Brazil's successful innovation in sugar and ethanol constitutes a more moderate version of the Singapore model. Brazil is the world's largest sugar exporter and the most successful producer of ethanol based on sugar. This success is based on an extensive set of innovation-promoting institutions that were largely the result of efforts by the military regime governing Brazil from 1964 to 1985. By the 1970s, this single veto player system had already begun a process of improving sugar yields and expanding the production of sugar-based ethanol through extensive coordination with and reliance on a large cooperative that included major sugar producers, such as Copersucar. Although the group's initial focus was on marketing and finance, Copersucar gradually broadened to include packaging and distribution of its own brands, processing and distribution of other commodities, and extensive R&D.20 For our purposes, the key point is the role of Copersucar and related institutions in providing the consultation that allowed a decisive military regime to establish the credibility of its commitment to often risky and expensive investments in sugar-related innovations.

Alternatively, the decisiveness difficulties that flow from multiple veto player environments can be overcome by reducing the effective number of veto players. As we discuss in more detail below, systemic factors may induce shared preferences across all potential veto players, or veto players may choose to delegate decision-making authority to a smaller number of actors to enable more decisive policy-making. In Israel, for example, politicians have pursued this balance through a combination of specialized agencies, e.g., the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), and a porous bureaucracy that facilitates the kinds of broad policy participation seen in Singapore (Breznitz, 2007).

Our concluding question involves the ultimate sources of these outcomes. Why was a country with a multiple veto player environment, Israel, able to achieve decisiveness as well as credibility by delegating key innovative functions to a hybrid organization? Why were countries with single veto players, Singapore and Brazil (from 1964–1985), able to achieve credibility as well as decisiveness through consultation with, as well as delegation of functions to, key private actors? And why was Thailand unable to move in either of these institutionally innovative directions?

Structural Sources of Institutions for Innovation

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Role of Political Institutions: Veto Players
  5. Structural Sources of Institutions for Innovation
  6. Conclusion
  7. About the Authors
  8. References

Our answer to these puzzles emphasizes structural pressures on the preferences and incentives of political elites.21 Our argument in its simplest form is that veto players are in part a function of systemic vulnerability (which we define below)—the higher the level of vulnerability, the greater the tendency to moderate the problems associate with a large or small number of veto players. As discussed above, the number of “effective” veto players is a product of two distinct factors: (1) the nature of actor preferences, and (2) the formal/institutional distribution of authority. The level of systemic vulnerability, we argue, shapes both of these factors.

The concept of systemic vulnerability was introduced by Doner, Ritchie, and Slater (2005). They define systemic vulnerability as the combination of the degree of external threat a state faces, the level of internal/domestic discontent, and the level of resource constraint. The authors argue that the creation or evolution of capable state institutions only occurs at high levels of systemic vulnerability—when political leaders confront popular discontent and external threats but lack resources to address these problems. Faced with such pressures, elites will create institutions to generate the resources necessary to address external and domestic threats.

Fleshing out the argument in more detail, during periods of state building, if levels of systemic vulnerability are high enough, political elites face strong incentives to adopt effective and efficient institutions—including those institutions necessary for innovation. For example, in Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, where systemic vulnerability was relatively high, the elite created bureaucracies with meritocratic promotion and competitive selection, leading to significant state capacity. They also established powerful lead development agencies that effectively organized, acquired, and disseminated technology and knowledge. Relatively low levels of corruption, or the ability to effectively hive off such corruption from leading economic sectors, allowed government to discipline investment capital.22 Each also exhibits high levels of linkages (“embeddedness”) with organized private actors (Evans, 1995). These traits in combination create significant capacity to provide public goods necessary for innovation.23 Put differently, the systemic vulnerability argument highlights conditions under which “good economics makes good politics.”24

The simplest form of this argument is that at very high and sustained levels of systemic vulnerability, state actors face a stark choice—either construct institutions that deal effectively with the credibility–decisiveness trade-off or risk being destroyed. Thus, regardless of formal institutional starting point, there will be a movement toward a small number of effective veto players—the Singapore and Israeli cases being prime examples of movements from different institutional starting points. Note, however, that the shift toward a small number of effective veto players did not involve an actual change in the number of formal veto players. Instead, elites in each country created functional alternatives—delegation and consultation—within stable political arrangements25 (see Table 1).

Table 1.  Mechanisms to Restrict the Number of Effective Veto Players
Veto Player ConfigurationPotential Policy-Making ChallengePotential Solution
Single veto playerLack of policy stability and credibility• Tying of hands via delegation to technocratic agency (Brazil)
• Tying of hands via extensive consultation and participation (Singapore, Brazil)
Multiple veto playerLack of decisiveness• Delegation technocratic agency to improve decisiveness (Israel: Office of Chief Scientist)
• Creation of cohesive majority party that controls all of the formal veto gates. (Thailand 2001–03)
• End run around formal veto players by single veto player (e.g., via a coup, decrees, and so on)

Israel's parliamentary system, with its shifting coalitions of multiple, often quite ideologically diverse parties, is, of course, an example of multiple veto players. Yet the country's external threats and lack of easily accessible resources resulted in the development of defense R&D capacity by the early–mid 1960s. These capacities in turn supported the creation of a more civilian-oriented Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) following the 1967 Six Day War and the OCS' full operationalization following the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Two features of the OCS and related activities bear emphasis.26 First, they represented efforts to promote broad economic growth viewed as key to the country's overall national security. Second, they did not involve large sums of money. Indeed, their relatively low financial requirements may have helped them fly under the radar of conflict parties. At the same time, their continued operation reflects the willingness of these parties to delegate a set of functions deemed important to national security to a separate agency.

Unlike Israel, Singapore started from a single veto-player structure embodied in the People's Action Party. Beginning in the 1960s, the PAP faced the need to satisfy a mobilized working class and external challenges. In addition, the country lacked access to natural resource revenues, foreign funds, and a domestic market. Separation from Malaysia in 1965 threw Singapore into geopolitical limbo, creating a sense of shared hardship throughout the country.27 This vulnerability was heightened by domestic unrest, stoked by severe Malay–Chinese racial riots in 1964, and intensified by Britain's decision to accelerate military withdrawal from Singapore by 1971. Singapore responded by modeling its development strategy after Israel. The strategy involved “leapfrogging” unfriendly regional markets and pursuing full-fledged integration in the global economy. Initially focused on low-wage activities, pressure from low-cost competitors and the political obstacles to squeezing domestic labor resulted in a shift to higher value-added, skill- and capital-intensive industries. This resulted not in greater competition within the political arena, e.g., the creation of additional veto players, but rather in the PAP-led government engaging in the extensive hand-tying consultation with both business and labor noted earlier in this article.28

More common are countries with fluctuations in vulnerability. One variant, illustrated by Brazil's successful sugar and ethanol industries, involves a significant and sustained increase in vulnerability pressures.29 Part of the stimulus for the sugar and ethanol efforts was a commitment to restructure the country's economic system in response to the ratcheting up of Brazil's level of vulnerability—the sources of the heightened vulnerability included a severe economic crisis and the Cuban revolution. In addition, the military government was keenly aware of its need to cultivate domestic legitimacy as part of its national security strategy, and legitimacy required growth.

Sugar was an important component of these efforts. Exports of sugar grew in importance as both a source of foreign exchange to finance inputs for the military's domestic industrialization efforts and a solution to the industry's chronic overproduction crises, as occurred in 1964–1965 and 1967. Several factors pushed the military to promote sugar-related innovation in the 1970s. Oil price rises threatened the country's economic growth and the military dictatorship's very ability to rule. To shore up their weakening political position, the generals held relatively free congressional elections in 1974 that resulted in a stunning defeat interpreted by the military as evidence of political isolation. Finally, a sharp decline in world sugar prices in the late 1970s due to oil shocks and U.S. interest rate hikes resulted in one of Brazil's worst, if not the worst, economic downturns, including the depression of the 1930s. Together, these conditions prompted the country's support for and creation of institutions ranging from Copersucar, the cooperative of major sugar producers engaged in extensive agroindustrial research, to Proalcool, one of the key institutions responsible for ethanol development. In short, a significant and sustained increase in vulnerability threats involving serious resource constraints in the face of popular political pressures led an authoritarian regime to engage in both consultation with producers, such as those represented in Copersucar, and in delegation of innovation to independent research organizations.

A second variant of otherwise low-moderate vulnerability countries includes countries such as Thailand that experience short and relatively moderate spikes in vulnerability. Thailand has not experienced Brazil's level of sustained popular mobilization or externally induced resource constraints. Thailand has, however, experienced two spikes in resource constraints largely due to external shocks, one in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and a more recent episode following the 1997 Asian financial crisis of which Thailand was the first “victim.” Below, we focus on the latter episode as it took place at a time when, unlike the 1980s, the country had begun to exhaust its cheap labor advantage while struggling under unstable, contentious coalition governments.

As discussed above, the need for an innovation focus had long been recognized within policy, political, and business circles, but in earlier eras, veto-player-backed differences over policy content, control, and funding scuttled reform attempts. However, as the 1997 crisis deepened in intensity, there was a (temporary)alignment of veto preferences around an economic recovery policy led by innovation and upgrading efforts. Delegative and consultative institutions emerged, as illustrated by the IRP. At the same time, steps were also taken to formalize institutional reduction of veto players through a new constitution, adopted in 1998.

However, the crisis-induced initial preference alignment gradually gave way to a more familiar pattern of indecisiveness. The Democrat Party, head of the post-crisis coalition government, was prevented by Thailand's multiple veto players from capitalizing on the early postcrisis initiatives and proved unable to address the problems of export competitiveness exposed by the crisis. This failure helped spur the demand for a more formal reduction of effective veto players, both through fewer partisan veto players and via delegation. Indeed, a common theme in the run-up to the 2001 elections was need for a bold “CEO-style” leader and a strong decisive government. The most forceful voice behind such an argument was Thaksin and his new political party, TRT. Thaksin's electoral victory in early 2001, backed by the new Thai constitution, which granted increased power to the prime minister, marked a dramatic consolidation of the formal veto player structure (Hicken, 2006). What used to be a fragmented minority coalition structure was transformed into a majority dominance of parliament by the TRT party.

The problem, however, was that even as the effective number of veto players was consolidating around the need to improve Thailand's ability to innovate, a rapidly improving and recovering economy lessened pressure on political elites to consolidate the institutional structures created to ensure credibility of policy directions. In short, as vulnerability returned to more moderate levels, Thaksin's government had few incentives to voluntarily tie its hands in a bid to signal its policy resoluteness. In fact, precisely the opposite, Thaksin and his narrow group of supporters began to undermine earlier steps to improve competitiveness, including the nascent education and training programs. In short, although the single veto player Thaksin government was decisive, policies reflected the narrow interests of single veto player and its supporters, and thus began rapidly to lose credibility.

As the country continued to recover from crisis, the number of veto players began again to edge upwards as rifts began to appear in the TRT party. Soon, the party resembled earlier periods of fragmented parliaments, even though the fragmentation was within a single party.

In sum, the crisis created the impetus to both reduce the number of veto players and simultaneously create institutions to add both decisiveness and credibility. But the crisis was neither long enough nor severe enough to convince elites to consolidate these institutions. As a result, as soon as the crisis lessened, delegative and consultative institutions were abandoned and soon thereafter the number of veto players again expanded. A comparison of each time period can be seen in Table 2.

Table 2.  Comparison of Crisis Periods
 Precrisis (1990–96)Crisis (1997–2000)Early Thaksin (2001–03)Later Thaksin (2003–06)
Number of veto playersHighly fragmented parliament; numerous competing parties; competing control of ministriesBegins to contract as preferences align around need to regain competitiveness.Contracts still further as Thai Rak Thai assumes power as a majority party.Begins again to expand and preferences with the Thai Rak Thai party diverge.
Consultative institutionsFew. Those that exist are ineffective.Industrial Restructuring Project; constitutional conventionIRP falls apart. Convention finishes work and disbands.Few, if any


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Role of Political Institutions: Veto Players
  5. Structural Sources of Institutions for Innovation
  6. Conclusion
  7. About the Authors
  8. References

In this article, we have tried to do two things. First, we have endeavored to show that economic policy, in this case innovation-related policy, is heavily influenced by political institutions, in particular the structure of the bargain between ruling elites and economic actors. This bargain is itself a second-order collective dilemma that is difficult to resolve.

The political institutions we focus on are the number of veto players in a society and the supporting institutions that exist to balance decisiveness with credibility. We find that as the number of veto players expands, the ability to be decisive declines, while the reverse is also true. Reducing the number of veto players enables decisiveness but raises anew the potential problem of a lack of credibility. We argue that to get both decisiveness and credibility, governments must reduce the effective number of veto players and create institutions that “tie the hands” of the veto players through mechanisms such as delegation, consultation, and participation.

Our second objective was to explain the origin of political bargains that both reduce the number of veto players and provide incentives for resoluteness. Here our argument is that high levels of systemic vulnerability—exposure to a combination of external threats and/or internal unrest coupled with hard budget constraints arising from scarce resource endowments—will create pressures to mitigate the inimical consequences of either a large or small number of veto players. This mitigation may take several forms, including the formal reduction of the actual number of veto players (via constitutional amendment, coups, party restructuring, elections, and so forth), reducing the effective number of veto players through preference alignment, and relying on delegation or consultation to increase decisiveness and/or tie hands. We argue that these mitigation institutions are most likely to emerge where systemic vulnerability is sustained for a sufficiently long period of time.

In countries where systemic vulnerability is high and sustained, like Singapore and Israel, our proposed causal explanations can be seen clearly. In countries where vulnerability pressures are much lower and less sustained, our hypothesized bargains emerge during times of crisis, but are not institutionalized sufficiently to last as the crisis abates.

This is the case of Thailand. Leading up to the financial crisis of 1997–1998, the Thai government was indecisive on issues of both upgrading and financial management. As the crisis built in intensity, both the actual number of veto players declined and their interests and preferences converged. There was a rapid increase in decisiveness in policy-making. In addition, institutions such as the IRP were created to aid in policy credibility through delegation and consultation. As Thaksin came to power, further reducing the number of veto players, Thailand appearedto be on the cusp of making significant progress on innovation and technological upgrading. At no other time in Thai history had there been a prime minister who explicitly promoted innovation while seeming to have the institutional capacity to make it happen.

Ultimately, however, Thailand failed to realize this potential. It appears that the crisis was not sustained enough nor perhaps severe enough to result in the entrenchment of these new institutions. The new government proved unwilling to tie its hands via consultation. The IRP fell apart. In the areas not directly in the interest of the ruling party and its supporters, political reform stalled and economic policy initiatives languished. As the crisis abated, the number of veto players again began to proliferate, leading to less and less policy creation.

But the story doesn't end here. Although we did not evaluate this extreme position in our case studies, it also appears possible that at some threshold, too many veto players can lead to policy credibility problems, as well as indecisiveness. As governments use resources to buy off veto players as a way out of potential policy gridlock, pork and political corruption often become the oil that allows the cumbersome machinery of government to work (Hicken, 2002). In the end, the objective in such environments is to get access to the budgets of innovation-related projects rather than achieve the innovation itself, ultimately destroying confidence in the policy initiatives themselves. Our suggestion, then, is that problems of credibility can emerge at both ends of the veto player spectrum.

On the other hand, new research suggests that multiple veto players might not always be inimical to development. For example, Basinger and Hallerberg (2004) find that a lack of decisiveness has the beneficial side effect of preventing countries from engaging in a “race to the bottom” economically. The argument suggests that as a race to the bottom requires countries to rapidly adjust economic policies around infrastructure, taxation, and investment, those countries with large numbers of veto players cannot move decisively enough to engage in the necessary policy reform to engage in such a strategy. Note, however, that large numbers of veto players might lead to both corruption and inefficiency while still allowing countries to benefit from indecisive policy that would protect them from a race to the bottom.

These seemingly contradictory findings point to several important questions that might be addressed in future research. For example, how many veto players is “just right?” Does the answer to such a question vary by country and issue area context? What balance of indecisiveness and credibility is optimal? Can certain veto player arrangements be purposefully made to be inefficient and credible, perhaps in monetary or investment policy, while other arrangements made to be efficient and credible, especially in innovation-related areas?

Another issue worth exploring in future work is the relationship between the level of systemic vulnerability and the stability of fundamental political–institutional bargains. One possibility that has emerged from this article is that where vulnerability is high, founding political bargains tend to be more stable, and subsequent institutional reform then takes place within or around the existing core institutional arrangements. However, where vulnerability is low, the institutional environment is less stable and the core institutions open for reform.

  • 1

    The authors would like to thank the Sloan Foundation Industry Studies Program for enabling two conference panels and a research workshop in which these articles were developed.

  • 2

    Despite some overlap between economic and political institutions, we use the economic institutions in the “narrow sense to refer to bodies that support industrial technology” (Lall, 2000, p. 29) and do so by bearing directly on the transactions of economic agents (Ahrens, 2002, chap. 5). Political institutions, on the other hand, refer to arrangements “that structure how politicians gain and retain power and determine who can propose or must approve policy change” (Keefer, 2004, p. 248).

  • 3

    On generic policies, see, e.g., Hill (2004, p. 355) and Yusuf (2003, p. 159). On more targeted measures, see the discussion of “new” industrial policy and see the World Bank's “Knowledge 4 Development” at http://www.worldbank.k4d.

  • 4

    While not minimizing the importance of policies, our emphasis in this paper is on institutions necessary for policy implementation. This follows the growing consensus among development economists that growth is a function not of capital accumulation, but of institutional change (Hoff & Stiglitz, 2001, p. 390).

  • 5

    Indeed, despite decades of globalization, the development of these competencies remains a domestic story (Cohen et al., 2009 and Ketokivi & Ali-Yrkkö, 2009). This is especially unfortunate given the now-significant literature on the opportunities and constraints posed by global value chains. See, e.g., Gereffi (2005).

  • 6

    See Simmons (2008) for a similar approach.

  • 7

    On the distinction between political and economic institutions, see note 1.

  • 8

    We do not focus on institutional veto players, in part because their effect is in large part a function of the partisan identity of those players (Cox & McCubbins, 2000), and because most of the cases covered in this article (Thailand, Singapore, and Israel) do not vary with regard to the formal, institutional dimension. There are also differences with regard to precise rules for counting partisan players, e.g., whether to focus on distance among veto players or number of players (Tsebelis, 2002, pp. 191, 204–205).

  • 9

    See the review in Tsebelis (2002, chap. 8), Hallerberg's (2002) study of monetary institutions, and Heinisz's (2000) study of credibility and growth.

  • 10

    Cox and McCubbins (2000), who also include a third characteristic: responsiveness to broad public interests. While recognizing the importance of this characteristic in the interest of clarity, we restrict our focus here to decisiveness and responsiveness.

  • 11

    The effective number of veto players is a joint product of the actual number of veto players and the extent to which their preferences diverge. Thus, a system where there are formally many partisan veto players, all of which share the same preferences, has in effect a single effective veto player.

  • 12

    MacIntyre (2002) develops this argument in the context of macroeconomic (exchange rate) policies.

  • 13

    Chalmers (2006, p. 13), who reports that from 1979 to 2001, Thailand underwent 25 governing coalitions and 43 cabinet reshuffles.

  • 14

    For an overview of this issue, see Brimble and Doner (2007).

  • 15

    This discussion of the IRP is drawn from Doner (2009, chap. 4).

  • 16

    Unless otherwise noted, the analysis of postcrisis education and training policy comes from Ritchie (2001, 2008).

  • 17

    Unless noted, the discussion of Thaksin draws on Doner (2009, chap. 4).

  • 18

    Thaksin came to power under a new (1997) constitution designed to reduce coalitional instability, as well as to improve checks and balances and to expand citizens' rights (McCargo, 2002). The constitution's shift from multimember to single-member constituencies was intended to encourage a smaller number of larger, more policy-based parties. In addition, the constitution created a number of special “antigraft” agencies designed to increase accountability and transparency in the political system (see Ockey, 2004, pp. 167–170). The electoral reforms achieved their goal of party consolidation, either weakening or actually wiping out smaller and medium-sized parties (McCargo, 2002, p. 117).

  • 19
  • 20

    Useful sources include Nunberg (1986), Saint (1982), Barzelay (1986), and Technical Tour (2002).

  • 21

    This approach reflects a diverse set of writings suggesting that development-promoting institutions will emerge when political elites perceive their countries confronting pressures similar to those faced by firms in highly competitive markets. Early versions of the approach include Gershenkron's (1962) account of institutional strength in late developers, and Katzeinstein's explanation for the emergence of corporatism (Katzeinstein, 1985; Schneider and Maxfield, 1997, p. 24, note 23). More recently, Juhana explains institutional strength in Taiwan, South Korea, Finland, and Austria as a function of external political challenges and projects of national integration and mobilization, under which “these countries could ill afford an economic failure” (Vartiainen, 1999, p. 223). Drawing on Mexican examples, Careaga and Weingast (2003) suggest that “good governance” occurs when greater electoral competition and greater dependence on locally generated revenues increases political leaders' propensities to provide market-fostering public goods. In a similar vein, Philip Keefer (2004) argues that when “the economic well-being of the elite depends to a great extent on investment by the nonelite rather than on the exploitation of mineral resources or plantation agriculture, the elite prefers to expand the franchise. In so doing, the elite makes credible its promise not to expropriate nonelites, thereby securing property rights and promoting economics growth” (p. 264). Even Jack Knight notes that actors' more common distributional impulses in institutional creation will be minimized in rare situations where they are constrained to search for the most efficient arrangements (Knight, 1992). For an explicit depiction of states as firms in competitive markets, see Lake and Baum (2001).

  • 22

    On corruption in Korea and Taiwan, see Kang (2002) and Fields (2007).

  • 23

    Viewed through existing theoretical lenses, this argument combines two of the more prominent accounts of institutional origins and change: functionalist-efficiency and power-distributional approaches (Thelen, 2003). In the functionalist account, institutions emerge to solve collective action problems. They are mechanisms through which interdependent parties achieve efficient collective outcomes by facilitating trade among actors with different preferences by structuring the flow of information and by reducing monitoring costs (e.g., North & Weingast, 1989). This is consistent with the vulnerability position, which views institutional innovation as an efficiency-based response to tough times. Yet the vulnerability approach argument also highlights the fact that political leaders promote institutions to shore up their own threatened positions. In this sense, the argument is consistent with a power perspective according to which institutions are inherently distributional and forged out of political struggles (e.g., Bates, 1995; Knight, 1992).

  • 24

    In this sense, the approach conforms to the view that large support coalitions encourage the creation of public goods and related institutions necessary for rapid growth and development (Bueno de Mesquita et al., 2003; Campos & Root, 1996). Conversely, for an emphasis on the benefits of narrow coalitions, see Waldner (1999).

  • 25

    The stability of existing political arrangements, i.e., veto players, itself is at least in part a function of initially high levels of vulnerability. We return to this issue in the conclusion.

  • 26

    This account draws on Breznitz (2007) and discussions with Dani Breznitz in April 2008.

  • 27
  • 28

    Such consultation informed and complemented the creation of independent agencies (e.g., McKendrick et al., 2000).

  • 29

    This discussion draws on Nunberg (1986), Barzelay (1986), and Doner and Ramsay (2009), especially chapter 6 (coauthored with Ansil Ramsay).

About the Authors

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Role of Political Institutions: Veto Players
  5. Structural Sources of Institutions for Innovation
  6. Conclusion
  7. About the Authors
  8. References

Richard F. Doner is Associate Professor of Political Science at Emory University specializing in the comparative political economy of Southeast Asia. His recent research has focused on explaining institutional innovation, university–industry linkages, and the political economy of development. His work has recently appeared in Business and Politics and International Organization.

Allen Hicken is Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Michigan. Professor Hicken studies political institutions and political economy in developing countries. His primary focus has been on political parties and party systems in developing democracies and their role in policy-making. His regional specialty is Southeast Asia, where he has worked in Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia.

Bryan K. Ritchie is Associate Professor of International Relations at James Madison Honors College within the Michigan State University. He focuses on social capital, innovation, anddevelopment in Southeast Asia. His work can be found in the Journal of East Asian Studies and International Organization.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Role of Political Institutions: Veto Players
  5. Structural Sources of Institutions for Innovation
  6. Conclusion
  7. About the Authors
  8. References
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