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On elites and decentralization and privatization            More on international elites
WP/103 - 2010
Poverty in the Eyes of Brazilian Elites
Elisa P. Reis

This paper discusses data from a survey and in-depth interviews on elite perceptions of poverty in Brazil. De Swaan tried to identify the circumstances under which elites are willing to mobilize resources in order to promote poverty reduction. This paper questions if de Swaan’s analysis applies to Brazil. The main finding is that two parts of de Swaan’s thesis do apply: that poverty is a problem for the rich in the sense that it generates negative externalities that they would like to reduce; and that the elite believe that there are effective remedies. What is missing for Brazilian elites is the third element, namely that the elite see poverty as their responsibility to do something about it.

WP/104 - 2010
The Simple Analytics of Elite Behaviour Under Limited State Capacity
Franҫois Bourguignon, and Thierry Verdier

This paper discusses the issue of taxation and redistribution in economies dominated by Elites with limited state capacity. Within a simple aggregate framework, we discuss the political economy incentives of Elites to tax, redistribute and increase state capacity. In particular, the analysis highlights the role of complementarities or substitutability in the production process between the factors controlled by the Elite and other social groups and shows the existence of natural increasing returns for Elites to increase state capacity. The paper also discusses how the incentives for state capacity building are affected by political threats of power shifting.

WP/105 - 2010
Mozambique’s Elite – Finding its Way in a Globalized World and Returning to Old Development Models
Joseph Hanlon, and Marcelo Mosse

What makes elites developmental instead of predatory? We argue that Mozambique’s elite was developmental at independence 35 years ago. With pressure and encouragement from international forces, it became predatory. It has now partly returned to its developmental roots and is trying to use the state to promote the creation of business groups that could be large enough and dynamic enough to follow a development model with some similarities to the Asian Tigers, industrial development in Latin America, or Volkskapitalisme in apartheid South Africa. But Mozambique’s elite has also returned to two other traditions – that development is done by the elite and by foreigners. There is little support for development of local SMEs and agricultural development has been left to foreign-owned plantations.

WP/108 - 2010
New Light on China’s Rural Elites
Bjorn Gustafsson and Ding Sai

This paper analyses political elites, economic elites, hybrid elite households and non-elite households in rural China using household data for 1995 and 2002. We seek to understand the determinants of belonging to each of the three elite categories. We find that education and military experience positively affect the probability of being a political elite. The probability of becoming an economic elite is linked to the age of the head of household and to the income level of the county, indicating that opportunities to become an economic elite have increased over time, but in a spatially uneven way.
We also investigate disparities in household per capita income as well as in household per capita wealth. Asia Market Transition Theory, we find that the relationship between education and the household’s economic status became stronger from 1995 to 2002. This theory also predicts that payoffs from belonging to the political elite decrease during transition towards market economy. Our results show that in the richest counties in 2002, the economic gain from being a political elite household was higher than elsewhere and higher than in high-income counties observed in 1995. We also found that although elite households on average have a better economic situation than non-elite households, income inequality and household wealth inequality in rural China would decrease only marginally if such disparities were to vanish. In contrast the spatial dimension is much more important for income inequality and for wealth inequality in rural China.

WP/109 - 2010
Elites and Property Rights
Alice H. Amsden

An elite derives its status from its relationship to property, whether physical or human capital. While stable property rights are necessary for everyday business, unstable property rights that result in major institutional changes (such as land reform) may have a positive impact on economic development. When are the ‘wrong’ property rights right? Institutional changes have a positive impact on economic development when a country’s elite can manage them. To support this generalization we examine the managerial capacity associated with elite status, highlighting which capabilities enable them to control changes in property rights regimes to their individual and national advantage. We compare how nationalization of foreign firms, a radical change in property rights, was managed in Argentina, China, Korea and Taiwan after the Second World War.

WP/113 - 2010
The International Circulation of Elites: Knowledge, Entrepreneurial and Political
Andrés Solimano and Diego Avanzini

International migration analysis often focuses on mass migration rather than on the international mobility of elites, which is the focus of this paper. The paper offers a three-fold classification of elites: (a) knowledge elites, (b) entrepreneurial elites and (c) political elites. We explore the concept of elites and their main motivation to move across nations and review indirect empirical evidence relevant to this type of mobility, highlighting some channels through which elites can affect international development.

WP/117 - 2010
Mutual Interdependence between Elites and the Poor
Chipiliro Kalebe-Nyamongo

There has been a growing recognition among scholars that politics matters in the distribution of resources in society. However, attempts to use a political economy ‘lens’ with which to explore causes of poverty and strategies for poverty alleviation have largely ignored elites. By failing to embrace the crucial role elites play in the implementation of pro-poor policy, existing research has not produced a holistic understanding of the underlying factors which inhibit or promote action towards propoor policy. Historical accounts of the evolution of welfare states in the UK and USA inform us that elites prioritization of poverty reduction is driven by the extent to which elites and the poor are interdependent, such that the presence of the poor has a positive or negative impact on elite welfare. Drawing on research into elite views of poverty and the poor in Malawi, this paper argues that in formulating effective, responsive, and comprehensive strategies for poverty reduction, the role of elites must be considered in addition to the adoption of democratic, economic, and social institutions.

WP/118 - 2010
Is it Possible to Reform a Customs Administration? The Role of the Customs Elite on the Reform Process in Cameroon
Thomas Cantens

An ethnographic approach is applied to Cameroon customs in order to explore the role and the capacity of the bureaucratic elites to reform their institution. Fighting against corruption has led to the extraction and circulation of legal ‘collective money’ that fuels internal funds. This collective money is the core of the senior officers’ power and authority, and materially grounds their elite status. Nevertheless, when reforming, wilful senior officers face a major problem. On the one hand, the onus is on them to improve governance and transparency, which can challenge the way they exert their authority. On the other hand, goodwill is not sufficient. ‘Reformers’ depend on a violent and unpredictable appointment process, driven by the political will to fight against corruption and the fact that the political authority has to keep a close eye on the customs apparatus that tends towards autonomy, thanks to its internal funds. Violence and collective representations weaken the legitimacy of the senior officers, even the reformers, by pushing individual skills into the background. This paper questions whether Cameroon’s use of official customs data to evaluate individual performance can open up fissures among customs elites such that reformers are distinguished from others.

WP/119 - 2010
Rekindling Governments from Within: Getting Public Sector Elite Officials to Support Government Reform in Brazil
Monica Pinhanez

This paper shows how an elite cadre of public sector officials played a key role in the success of administrative reforms in Brazil’s state tax administration bureaus in the 1990s. The success of the reforms strengthened public sector bureaucracies and institutions at all government levels, predominantly in the tax departments. At the state level, the tax administrative reforms comprised complex changes in organizational structure, technology, and institutional arrangements. These reforms resulted in increased tax revenues, tax compliance, and successful restructuring. For the public officials who took part in the process, the reforms meant finding a new identity, and a new mission. As such, this paper explores an alternative mode of getting public sectors officials to commit and own public sector changes.

William I. Robinson - 2010
Global Capitalism Theory and the Emergence of Transnational Elites

The class and social structure of developing nations has undergone profound transformation in recent decades as each nation has incorporated into an increasingly integrated global production and financial system. National elites have experienced a new fractionation. Emergent transnationally-oriented elites grounded in globalized circuits of accumulation compete with older nationally-oriented elites grounded in more protected and often state-guided national and regional circuits. This essay focuses on structural analysis of the distinction between these two fractions of the elite and the implications for development. I suggest that nationally-oriented elites are often dependent on the social reproduction of at least a portion of the popular and working classes for the reproduction of their own status, and therefore on local development processes however so defined whereas transnationally-oriented elites are less dependent on such local social reproduction. The shift in dominant power relations from nationally- to transnationally-oriented elites is reflected in a concomitant shift to a discourse from one that defines development as national industrialization and expanded consumption to one that defines it in terms of global market integration.

Elise S. Brezis - 2010
Globalization and the Emergence of a Transnational Oligarchy

The aim of this paper is to examine the evolution of recruitment of elites due to globalization. In the last century, the main change that occurred in the way the Western world trained its elites is that meritocracy became the basis for their recruitment. Although meritocratic selection should result in the best being chosen, we show that meritocratic recruitment may actually lead to class stratification and auto-recruitment. In this paper, I show that due to globalization, the stratification effect will be even stronger. Globalization will bring about the formation of an international technocratic elite with its own culture, norms, ethos, and identity, as well as its private clubs like the Davos World Economic Forum. We face the emergence of a transnational oligarchy.

Jurgen Brauer and Robert Haywood - 2010
Non-state Sovereign Entrepreneurs and Non-territorial Sovereign Organizations

We propose two new concepts, of non-state sovereign entrepreneurs and the non-territorial sovereign organizations they form, and relate them to issues pertaining to state sovereignty, governance failures, and violent social conflict over the appropriation of the powers that accrue to states in modern international law. The concepts deal with the rise of transboundary non-state actors, as they impinge on and aim to supplement or supersede certain powers of state actors. We provide examples to show that non-state sovereign entrepreneurs and their organizations already exist. We are interested in their potential role in conflict transformation. 

W. K. Carroll & C. Carson - 2003
Forging a New Hegemony? The Role of Transnational Policy Groups in the Network and Discourses of Global Corporate Governance

This study situates five top transnational policy-planning groups within the larger structure of corporate power that is constituted through interlocking directorates among the world’s largest companies. Each group makes a distinct contribution toward transnational capitalist hegemony both by building consensus within the global corporate elite and by educating publics and states on the virtues of one or another variant of the neoliberal paradigm.
Analysis of corporate-policy interlocks reveals that a few dozen cosmopolitans —primarily men based in Europe and North America and actively engaged in corporate management— knit the network together via participation in transnational interlocking and/or multiple policy groups.
As a structure underwriting transnational business activism, the network is highly centralized, yet from its core it extends unevenly to corporations and individuals positioned on its fringes.
The policy groups pull the directorates of the world’s major corporations together, and collaterally integrate the lifeworld of the global corporate elite, but they do so selectively, reproducing regional differences in participation. These findings support the claim that a well-integrated global corporate elite has formed, and that global policy groups have contributed to its formation. Whether this elite confirms the arrival of a transnational capitalist class is a matter partly of semantics and partly of substance.

On power elites and development:

Aligning Elites with Development

TNCs and Oligopolistic Capital

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Integrated International System of Production and Power Elites

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