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Iran Auto
Building a Global Industry in an Islamic State

Part of Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences

  • Date Published: October 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107171671


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About the Authors
  • Since the revolution of 1979, scholars have portrayed the Islamic State's industrial development capacity in a negative light. Global isolation, incoherent economic planning, and predatory Islamic institutions are often cited as the reasons for lackluster development. In Iran Auto: Building a Global Industry in an Islamic State, Darius Mehri shows how this characterization is misguided. Today, Iran has one of the world's largest automobile industries with national technical capacity. Previous studies ignore the consequences of three decades of Iran's capacity for successful industrialization and changes in global technology transfer that allow countries, even ones isolated from formal global institutions, to build an automobile industry. Mehri shows how industrial nationalists in Iran constructed a network of politically effective relationships to open up space for successful local industrial development, and then tapped into a set of important global linkages to create an industry with high local manufacturing content. This book will open up a new line of inquiry into how countries in the global south can develop a successful national automobile industry without the need to conform to global economic institutions.

    • Focuses on how countries can develop an industry without global economic integration
    • Shows how a nation can obtain higher value added technology without dependence on large multinational corporations
    • Will appeal to development, political economy and economic sociology scholars who study how intermediate states achieve successful development outcomes
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Iran is among the world's top fifteen auto producers. Who knew!?! More than that, unlike most countries outside of the Triad, Iran has its own set of companies with capabilities to design both cars and drive trains. In this book, Mehri tells the fascinating story of how Iran's auto industry, under a sanctions regime that effectively prohibited the foreign investment that provides the foundation for most developing countries' auto industries, systematically gained industrial capabilities by tapping the services of global automotive engineering consultancies and Tier 1 suppliers through programs explicitly designed to transfer knowledge to Iranian firms. It's an extreme case that provides rich lessons for how global industries work today, and how creative government policies can leverage the openness of Global Value Chains to foster upgrading in their domestic industries.' Timothy J. Sturgeon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Industrial Performance Center

    'The automobile industry in Iran employs an estimated one million employees. However, until Mehri's compelling contribution, we had no academic study of Iran's largest source of employment. Not only does he mobilize original data based on diverse primary sources, but Mehri deftly employs theories from economic sociology to uncover a 'mini-developmental state' that, while fragile and resting on a political coalition, has generated economic efficiency and technical innovation. This book enriches our understanding of post-revolutionary Iran, as well as industrial development, by unearthing the role played by transnational technological networks and the fashioning of embedded autonomy.' Arang Keshavarzian, New York University and author of Bazaar and State in Iran: The Politics of the Tehran Marketplace

    'Many westerners think of Iran as a backward-looking autocracy, whose rulers are neither willing nor able to modernize their country. They would be surprised to learn that the Islamic Republic plays host to one of the developing world's largest and most domesticated auto industries – producing more than one million vehicles per year with approximately sixty percent local content. In this fascinating monograph, Darius Mehri explains the 'rise of Iran auto', paying particularly careful attention to the role of engineering consultancies in the process, and in so doing forces us to rethink not only our portrait of the Islamic Republic but the prospects for industrialization in the Global South more generally.' Andrew Schrank, Olive Watson Professor of Sociology and International Studies, Brown University, Rhode Island

    'Possibilities for industrialization in a globalized world and the range of economic options open to Islamic regimes must both be re-imagined as a result of this carefully researched, empirically grounded, analytically thoughtful book. Mehri explodes accepted stereotypes and reveals new possibilities for connection between nationalist economic regimes and transnational corporations. His analysis of the growth of Iran's auto industry should be required reading for anyone interested in twenty-first century economic development in the Global South.' Peter Evans, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley and Watson Institute for International Studies and Public Affairs, Brown University, Rhode Island

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107171671
    • length: 194 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus. 11 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Setting the stage: the pre-revolution rise and the post-revolution decline of the automobile industry
    2. The rise of the industrial nationalists: postwar conflict, neoliberalism, and national industrial strategy
    3. An era of coherence: state-led development and the deepening of automobile industry ties to society
    4. Using global corporate networks as a path to national industrial development
    5. From industrial protection to the rise of the stakeholder model of corporate ownership
    6. Factors determining Iran Auto's survival: industry fragility, the quality issue, and the conflict over globalization

  • Author

    Darius Mehri, University of California, Berkeley
    Darius Mehri holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. Before becoming a sociologist, he worked as an automobile engineer in the United States and Japan. His publications have appeared in the Socio-Economic Review, Studies in Comparative International Development, and the Academy of Management Review. His book on the Toyota production system entitled Notes from Toyota-land: An American Engineer in Japan was published in 2005. He currently works as a Risk Management Analyst at the New York City Department of Buildings.

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