Wilson Center Experts
Deborah A Bräutigam
After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University as a British Studies major in 1976, I spent four years traveling, working, and teaching in Asia. Exposed to the poverty of villages in Afghanistan, Nepal, and India, I also lived in the midst of the economic dynamism of Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. This exposure to poverty, and to the extreme variety of development strategies adopted by Asian governments, changed the direction of my professional life and gave me the commitment to the study and practice of development that I still hold today. Since 1994, I have taught in the International Development Program at the School of International Service at American University. Prior to this, I taught at Columbia University and I have either taught or been a visiting fellow in Norway, Thailand, Liberia, Mauritius, and Sierra Leone. My teaching and my practical work have centered on development issues: governance, foreign aid, democracy, and capacity-building, among others. In keeping with my dual commitment to theory and practice, I have also served as a consultant for the United Nations, the World Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development in Cambodia, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and various African countries. I have always been interested in exploring alternatives to the mainstream. In my research on Chinese aid in Africa, I was initially curious about the impact of China's cultural revolution development model on their foreign aid projects. Outside of the OECD and the foreign aid regime, these projects were almost completely unscrutinized. My book on China's aid program in Africa pointed to the importance of national development strategies. This brought me to the study of economic governance-what I believe to be the central issue in understanding when development does and doesn't "work". My project on the politics of globalization in Mauritius and other small social democracies stems from my dual concern with theory and practice. Theoretically, I am engaged with the comparative political economy questions of the management of economic governance. How can we understand the politics of cases where governments have reconciled demands from their societies for policies that alleviate inequality and poverty, while at the same time building economies that can support competitiveness and dynamism? The practical importance of these questions should be clear to anyone who reads a newspaper these days. It has become commonplace for the streets outside any large international meeting to be taken over by protestors who are voicing discontent with what they see as an assault on dignity and humanity in the development models adopted in so many parts of the world. Does social democracy as practiced in Mauritius, and other developing countries such as Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay, provide a viable "third way" in the "Third World"?
Foreign aid and economic policy reform; governance and democracy; World Bank policies; comparative national development strategies; East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa
Globalization is increasingly linked in the public's mind with conflict. Examples range from Chiapas to the "Battle in Seattle." Yet there are cases where developing countries have defied expectations, coupling economic globalization with strong democracies and high levels of social development. Mauritius is such a case. This project uses historical institutionalism to explore more deeply the processes of economic governance in Mauritius (and several comparator countries), in particular the construction of state capacity, the institutions that structured state-society relations ("embedded autonomy") and the particular way in which each has coupled economic liberalism with social protections ("embedded liberalism"). Diffusing knowledge about the strategies Mauritius and other more successful countries have followed might reduce the violence increasingly associated with globalization, and make competitiveness more compatible with security, dignity, and human development.
- Chinese Aid and African Development: Exporting Green Revolution. New York: St. Martins Press, 1998.
- Institutions, Economic Policy, and Democratic Consolidation in Mauritius. Comparative Politics, v. 30, n. 1, October 1997, 45-62.
- Foreign Aid and the Politics of Participation in Economic Policy Reform. Public Administration and Development, v. 20, October 2000, 253-264.