http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 13.92Change: 0.01
R/$ = 12.69Change: -0.03
Au 1092.98 $/ozChange: -2.20
Pt 983.00 $/ozChange: 1.00
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters Contact Us
 
 
 
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Jul 26, 2012

Beyond leadership

Back
Africa|Building|System|Africa|North America|South America|South Africa|United Kingdom|Energy|James Robinson|Nelson Mandela|Power
Africa|Building|System|Africa|||Energy|Power
africa-company|building|system|africa|north-america|south-america|south-africa|united-kingdom|energy|james-robinson|nelson-mandela|power
© Reuse this



The clamour for leadership in South Africa has become so loud as to be deafening.

For that reason, I sat up and paid serious attention when Professor James Robinson – the Harvard academic who co-authored the acclaimed book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty with Daron Acemoglu – downplayed leadership as a major determinant of a country’s economic and developmental success, or otherwise.

Speaking in South Africa recently, Robinson argued that “leadership is great when you can get it, but seems hard to rely on” to explain systematic facts around the comparative advances made, for instance, in North America, as opposed to South America.

“Sitting in South Africa, you tend to think about Nelson Mandela and his amazing leadership,” he mused. “But Mandela can only do so much . . . he can push in a particular direction, but he can’t determine any kind of future.”

Instead, Robison and Acemoglu fixate on “institutions, institutions, institutions” and, in their book, they describe two kinds of political and economic institutions: extractive and inclusive.

The former involves a narrow distribution of political power and economic institutions that fail to create the incentives needed for private citizens to save, invest and innovate.

Inclusive political and economic institutions, by contrast, involve a broad distribution of political rights across society, a State that is sufficiently centralised and strong to be in a position to provide basic public goods and economic institutions that harness the talent, innovation and energy of the broadest spectrum of the citizenry.

The details vary, but the book shows that many of the world’s prevailing extractive institutions have direct links to the colonial period and the course that colonisation took in different countries. It also shows that these institutional patterns can persist (even re-invent themselves) following political conflicts designed primarily to remove such constraints.

For South Africa, where the policy of apartheid is arguably an archetypal extractive model, this raises many questions.

Will the move toward political inclusivity ensure greater economic inclusivity? Or, will the formal restrictions be replaced by a series of informal, or underground, institutional arrangements that further entrench inequality.

Will black economic empowerment compensate for past discrimination and serve to deracialise and broaden the business milieu? Or will it simply result in a new oligarchy, whereby the new economic elite captures the political system?

The main safeguard against the worst, Robison and Acemoglu argue, is the creation of a broad societal coalition that is able to defend inclusive institutions from attack by predatory elites.

The example held up in the book is the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 in England, where more pluralistic political institutions laid the foundation for a State that relied more heavily on talent than political appointments and, in turn, fostered more inclusive economic institutions. These institutions favoured innovators and entrepreneurs just at a time when major advances were being made in transportation, metallurgy and steam power.

Without question, the task of building a broad-based coalition that is supportive of inclusivity over extraction is easier said than done. But it is arguably a more realistic, and ultimately a more rewarding, endeavour than one that obsessively hankers for one messianic leader after the next.

Edited by: Terence Creamer
Creamer Media Editor
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Editorial Insight News
The trade-off currently being considered in the steel industry is relatively straightforward. The country’s largest steel producer, supported by some smaller companies, is seeking greater protection from steel imports, as well as regulations stipulating that locally...
With tongue firmly in cheek, political commentator JP Landman empathised strongly recently with an audience of mostly male professionals for having to bear the infuriating insistence of their fathers-in-law that the entire country was being kept solvent by a small...
More
 
 
Latest News
Embattled South African steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) has offered insight into the “fair pricing model” it has tabled before government in return for tariff protection and a government stipulation that locally manufactured steel be designated for...
Telecommunications group Telkom on Friday said it had posted a 1.7% uptick in net revenue for the three months to June 30, on the back of a strong performance by mobile on data revenue and higher fixed-line subscription revenue. Mobile net revenue for the first three...
Dangote Cement revised its 2015 spending plans to $1-billion from the $700-million estimated nine months ago after it commissioned two new African plants this June, Nigeria's biggest listed company said on Friday. The company, majority owned by billionaire Aliko...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Water 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
Daimler truck test engineer Dirk Stranz pushes one button, and then retracts his hands from the steering wheel of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025. “And now the truck is driving itself.”
The statutory body responsible for skills development and support in the banking sector, BANKSETA, was investing R68-million in the capacity building project of the University of Venda (UniVen), announced Bankseta company secretary Caroline King at a media event in...
LIONEL MOYAL Cloud services providers must compete against other cloud services providers for business by providing up-to-date systems and services
Legacy information technology (IT) systems are becoming increasingly obsolete because of the maturity, efficiencies and cost effectiveness of cloud-based IT services, says information and communication technology major T-Systems subsidiary Intervate head Lionel...
ARMANDÉ KRUGER Balancing the collection and processing of data must be aligned to strategy
Many complementary services enable companies to derive broad value from data inside and outside them. The complexity of data management means that companies’ strategies determine the various data systems and functions they will use, says PBT Group regional sales...
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has announced that it had awarded the country’s first remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) pilot’s licence. It was issued on Friday, July 10, to SACAA employee and qualified commercial pilot Nicole Swart,...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96