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Hierarchical Market Economies and Varieties of Capitalism in Latin America*


The extensive scholarship on ‘varieties of capitalism’ offers some conceptual and theoretical innovations that can be fruitfully employed to analyse the distinctive institutional foundations of capitalism in Latin America, or what could be called hierarchical market economies (HMEs). This perspective helps identify four core features of HMEs in Latin America that structure business access to essential inputs of capital, technology and labour: diversified business groups, multinational corporations (MNCs), low-skilled labour, and atomistic labour relations. Overall non-market, hierarchical relations in business groups and MNCs are central in organising capital and technology in Latin America, and are also pervasive in labour market regulation, union representation and employment relations. Important complementarities exist among these features, especially between MNCs and diversified business groups, as well as mutually reinforcing tendencies between these dominant corporate forms and general under-investment in skills and in well-mediated employment relations. These four features of HMEs, their common reliance on hierarchy, and the particular interactions among them add up to a distinct variety of capitalism, different from those identified in developed countries and other developing regions.


El extenso debate académico sobre las “variedades del capitalismo” ofrece algunas innovaciones conceptuales y teóricas que pueden ser utilizadas exitosamente para analizar los fundamentos característicos del capitalismo en Latinoamérica, o de lo que se pudieran llamar economías jerárquicas de mercado (EJMs). Esta perspectiva ayuda a identificar cuatro características fundamentales de las EJMs en América Latina que estructuran el acceso de las empresas a las aportaciones esenciales de capital, tecnología y trabajo: grupos económicos; corporaciones multinacionales; trabajo no calificado; y relaciones laborales atomizadas. Sobre todo, las relaciones jerarquizadas en ls grupos económicos y corporaciones multinacionales son esenciales para la organización del capital y la tecnología en Latinoamérica, y también son dominantes en las regulaciones del mercado laboral, la representación sindical y las relaciones laborales. Existen importantes complementariedades entre estas características, especialmente entre las corporaciones multinacionales y los grupos económicos, así como en las tendencias mutuamente reforzadas entre estas formas corporativas dominantes y una pobre inversión general en capacitación y en las relaciones laborales mediadas efectivamente. Estas cuatro características de las EJMs, la dependencia común en las jerarquías y las particulares relaciones entre ellas, conforman distintas variedades del capitalismo, diferente de las identificadas en países desarrollados y en otras regiones en vías de desarrollo.


O extensivo leque de estudos que trata das “variedades de capitalismos” nos oferece inovações conceituais e teóricas que podem ser proveitosamente empregadas na análise das distintas fundações institucionais do capitalismo na America Latina, ou no que podem ser chamadas de economias de mercado hierárquicas (HMEs, do inglês hierarchical market economies). Esta perspectiva auxilia na identificação de quatro pontos-chave das HMEs na America Latina que estruturam o acesso dos empreendimentos às fundamentais entradas de capital, tecnologia e mão-de-obra, sendo os pontos: grupos econômicos; corporações multinacionais (MNCs, do inglês multinational corporations); mão-de-obra não qualificada; e relações de trabalho fracionadas. No geral, relações hierárquicas são centrais na organização de capital e tecnologia nos grupos corporativos e nas MNCs. Essas relações permeiam, também, a regulação do mercado de trabalho, a representação sindical e as relações de trabalho. Importantes complementaridades existem dentre estas características, particularmente entre MNCs e grupos econômicos, assim como tendências mutuamente fortalecedoras entre estas formas corporativas dominantes e o baixo investimento em capacitacăo e em relações de trabalho bem mediadas. Estes quatro aspectos de HMEs, sua recorrente dependência de hierarquias, e as interações específicas entre elas somam para produzir uma variedade distinta de capitalismo, divergente daquelas identificadas em países desenvolvidos e em outras regiões em desenvolvimento.

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Robert Boyer , ‘How and Why Capitalisms Differ’, Economy and Society, vol. 34, no. 4 (2005), pp. 509–57

Dorothee Bohle and Béla Greskovits , ‘The State, Internationalization, and Capitalist Diversity in Eastern Europe’, Competition & Change, vol. 11, no. 2 (2007), pp. 89115.

Ben Ross Schneider , ‘Economic Liberalization and Corporate Governance: The Resilience of Business Groups in Latin America’, Comparative Politics, vol. 40, no. 4 (2008), pp. 379–98

Ben Ross Schneider , ‘A Comparative Political Economy of Diversified Business Groups, or How States Organize Capitalism’, Review of International Political Economy, vol. 16, no. 2 (forthcoming, 2009)

Tarun Khanna and Yishay Yafeh , ‘Business Groups in Emerging Markets: Paragons or Parasites?’, Journal of Economic Literature, vol. 45, no. 2 (2007), pp. 331–72

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James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer , ‘Latin America at the End of the Millennium’, Monthly Review, vol. 51, no. 3 (1999), pp. 3152

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Sebastián Etchemendy and Ruth Berins Collier , ‘Down but Not Out: Union Resurgence and Segmented Neocorporatism in Argentina (2003–2007)’, Politics and Society, vol. 35, no. 3 (2007), pp. 363401.

Jorge Katz , ‘Structural Reforms and Technological Behaviour: The Sources and Nature of Technological Change in Latin America in the 1990s’, Research Policy, vol. 30, no. 4 (2001), p. 4.

David Finegold and David Soskice , ‘The Failure of Training in Britain: Analysis and Prescription’, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, vol. 4, no. 3 (1988), pp. 2153.

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Journal of Latin American Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-216X
  • EISSN: 1469-767X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-latin-american-studies
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