Skip to main content
Available in English

Growth crises and strategic turnarounds

Publication cover

Growth crises and strategic turnarounds

Author: Ramos, Joseph Physical Description: páginas. 63-79 Date: August 1993 ECLAC symbol: LC/G.1767-P


The import-substitution strategy was entirely justified in the 1930s and continued to make sense until the late 1950s, so long as export opportunities were being dampened by the Great Depression, the Second World War and the reconstruction of Europe. From the 1960s on, however, it afforded diminishing returns as international trade burgeoned. During the 1980s, the macroeconomic instability caused by the debt crisis compounded the problems associated with this development strategy, which had begun to become apparent in the 1970s. Evidence to this effect was provided by the region's declining productivity and increasing vulnerability to external shocks. This is why today's infant industries are concentrating their attention on gaining a foothold in external markets rather than on the acquisition of production skills. Despite the consensus that is taking shape with respect to this outward-looking orientation, significant differences still remain between the neostructural and neoliberal visions of society in respect of both their development focus and instruments. The role of the State: How active or passive should it be? The bias of export incentives: Should they be temporarily pro-export, or neutral? Social equity: Should we see distribution as just a question of time (the trickle-down strategy);, take a parallel approach whereby economic policy is devoted to growth and social policy to distribution, or, as the author suggests, apply an integrated approach in which economic policy would incorporate objectives of both distribution and social equity? The article closes with a counterpoint between the orthodox focus, which concentrates entirely on liberalization and deregulation, and the neostructuralist approach, which advocates the use of more active instruments by a more effective public sector to eliminate critical bottlenecks.