Political authoritarianism and economic success in Indonesia and South Korea
Johnson, Marcus A.
Barma, Naazneen H.
Weiner, Robert J.
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This thesis researches the features of political authoritarianism that might contribute to economic success. It seeks to define authoritarianism and disaggregate its characteristics to better understand the ways in which it affects development. This thesis is based on comparative case studies of South Korea's and Indonesia's contemporary political-economic trajectories. These two countries shared a similar political make-up, yet their economic paths and outcomes are quite different. South Korea, under Park Chung-hee, produced a proficient economic framework that fostered competent long-term institutions to build a developmental state. The bifurcated economic strategy pursued by Suharto was neo-liberal in philosophy, yet it contained nepotism, corruption, and cronyist behaviors in practice that produced inefficiency and growth-inhibiting outcomes. The prevalence of these factors provides an explanation as to why Indonesia, under Suharto, did not achieve the same level of success that Park's South Korea attained. The thesis concludes by reflecting on key findings and implications, offering a way forward on how underdeveloped countries seeking political and economic reforms can learn from the mistakes and successes of the two case studies.
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