Wednesday, February 24, 2016
McKinney Conference Room
The concept of “embedded autonomy” speaks to the importance of coordination and bidirectional information exchange between Weberian bureaucrats and their private sector interlocutors. It has proven influential not only in the sociology of development, where it originated, but in political science and economics as well. But the prospects for bidirectional information exchange depend upon the structure and nature of the private sector, which has been all but overlooked by the literature on embedded autonomy. Samford argues that scholars should take private sector structure seriously by bringing existing network analytic methods to bear on the discussion of embedded autonomy. Specifically, he identifies a tension between the network requisites for information gathering and for information diffusion and conclude that the strategic filling of social network holes lies at the heart of effective bureaucrats’ efforts to promote development. He shows how one government agency in Mexico has resolved this tension in assisting the upgrading of the artisanal ceramics sector.
Steven Samford is a post-doctoral fellow in the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.