Varieties of Capitalism and the Study of Regional Development: The Case of the State of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Friday, 3 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
CLM.B.06 (Clement House)
Cristiano Fonseca Monteiro, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Volta Redonda, Brazil
Joćo Marcos Lima Barboza, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Volta Redonda, Brazil
The paper aims to apply the “Varieties of Capitalism” approach to a regional level, by analyzing the case of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It acknowledges the criticism towards the VOC approach, specially the tendency of this approach to overemphasize continuity, its focus on the national level and, mainly within the Latin American literature, the absence of the State as a relevant actor. The paper presents data on the core features of a Hierarchical Market Economy (labor force skill level, degree of informality of the labor market, ownership structure of the firms, and most relevant industries) over the last two decades, and then discusses the most relevant development projects being implemented in the state of Rio de Janeiro in recent years. According to some critics, moving from the national to the regional level should reveal a more nuanced picture, eventually divergent from the existing types of capitalism. However, in the case of Rio de Janeiro, the relevant data are consistent with the HME core features, and such features tend to be reinforced between the 1990s and the 2000s. Other critics highlight the role of the State  in introducing change to economic trajectories. The paper analyzes the most relevant development projects being carried on, most of them supported by state agencies and business associations, and it shows that such projects are predominantly typical of the Hierarchical Market Economy, even if some of them promote new industries. The paper concludes that, even if we change the scale to take a closer look at a specific case, and if we take into account the role of the state and business associations as potential sources of change in the development trajectory under analysis, the VOC approach and its HME variation still have explanatory power, and that it should be taken into account by researchers interested in studying development trajectories in Latin American countries or, at least, in Brazil.