Academic writing on industrial policy emphasizes the role of consultation and coordination with the private sector, both in designing appropriate public actions and in providing feedback. But, in many cases, a close relationship between business and government can lead to capture and inappropriate policy choices. Managing the tension between close coordination and capture is a central challenge in the practice of industrial policy. The academic literature on implementing industrial policy, however, is remarkably light on practical guidance for policy makers as to how to achieve coordination without capture. There is perhaps no region of the developing world more in need of this guidance than Africa, where twenty years of sustained economic growth have resulted in only modest industrial development and job creation, an issue increasingly emphasized by the continent’s leaders themselves.
In 2014 the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) launched a joint research project on ‘The Practice of Industrial Policy’ to contribute to the topic. This volume, written by national researchers and international experts, presents the results of the joint project.
The book consists of three parts, including framing essays that survey key topics in the practice of industrial policy, case studies from Asia addressing the evolution of business–government coordination, and case studies of efforts to build business–government engagement in Africa. The objective is to assist policy makers develop close coordination between the public and private sector to identify, design, implement, and monitor policies to remove the constraints to industrial development. While simple imitation of institutional frameworks that have been successful in Asia is unlikely to bear fruit in the very different social and political context of Africa, a main purpose of this volume is to ‘deconstruct’ successful experiences with close coordination and remove them from their political and social context in order to come to grips with the underlying institutional economics of the coordination process. These first principles may then be applied effectively in other institutional and political settings.
I would, on behalf of UNU-WIDER, like to express my deepest gratitude to John Page for taking on the lead role in this project, including co-editing this (p.vi) volume. In addition, I wish to express our gratitude to each of the authors for their willingness to participate in the project and for their insightful contributions. Finally, UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges the special programme contribution by KOICA for the joint project and the core contributions to its work programme from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Helsinki, November 2016