Cultures of capitalisms in Argentina and Chile

Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group
Tomas Undurraga
Entertaining Room, Darwin College
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 14:10 to 15:00

On the surface, the political economies of Argentina and Chile appear to be quite similar. The World Bank classifies both countries as upper-middle income economies, both were upheld as poster children of ‘Washington Consensus’ policies after implementing neoliberal market reforms, and both pursued strategies of de-industrialisation and development based on agricultural exports.

Despite these similarities, the market models implemented by these two countries are rather different. In Chile, neoliberalism is entrenched within the social structure, such that there is minimal public critique of the national economic model. By contrast, neoliberal policies have come under severe scrutiny in Argentina, especially in the wake of the 2001 crisis. The state has taken a more interventionist role in national markets and has also become more involved in mediating relations between capital and labour. Discussing Schneider and Soskice’s (2009) vision of a common ‘hierarchical market economy’ that characterises Latin America, I will argue that social, institutional, and cultural differences largely explain the divergent market models developed in Argentina and Chile. This is evident through the differing attitudes towards the role of business and its relations with workers and the state in the two countries, as well as divergent management practices and business cultures. By shedding light on different cultures of capitalisms and market regulation in Latin America, this presentation aims to challenge the common perception of a convergent model of capitalism across the region.

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