Economic Development and Opposing Theories Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

In fact, Brierly and Costello bring into the argument the three variables commonly associated with industry growth -- labor, Capital, and Technology. Brierly and Costello used time series regression to test each of these variables in order to determine which made the largest impact on state economic growth, while holding the caveat that states should be careful when considering these variables as they do not have much control over them. Brierly and Costello's results suggested that increasing labor had larger impacts on state economic development than increases in the other two variables. This conclusion is correct only for the short-term, however. In fact, Brierly and Costello's reasoning for their findings that neither increases in labor or technology result in economic growth for states because their investments are typically more "long-term" (Brierly and Costello).

Instead of simply relying on capital, however, Richard C. Feiock argues that non-traditional methods can be beneficial for state economic development, in addition to traditional plans based on competition in his article, "Development Policy Competition and Positive Sum Growth: Incentive Competition and it's Alternatives." Freiock argues against those who suggest that competitive developmental policies are nullified by other policies by insisting that many developmental policies actually work. Instead of making sweeping statements that suggest development programs and competition do not work, Freiock suggests tat whether or not a policy works is based on the types of policies enacted and the economic environment, much like any other theory or policy. In addition to these traditional competition-based models, which can result in positive improvements in economic development in certain cases, the author continues to argue that developments in institutions, human capital, and social capital are worthy substitutions. In arguing for these alternative theories, Freicok suggests that states can boost their economies by carefully designing their affects on institutions and their rules and regulations, increasing human capital through education and training incentives, and cultivating social capital by structuring a community based on trust and civic duty. Thus, Freiock's suggestion differs from the others because of its unique suggestions, but, like Wilson (1999) suggests, the author imposes a specific plan for success.

Analysis and Conclusion

Although each of the articles proposed different ideas and solutions regarding the field of state economic development, they are characterized by a host of similarities. For instance, each seems to believe that state economic development is a legitimate, complex pursuit, and each seem to understand that certain variables result in a positive development while others do not. All align with Wilson's (1999) view that specific policies, rather than general ones, are needed to make a difference in the world of state economic development. Despite these similarities, however, the articles featured a variety of differences, differences that affect their applicability. For instance, Wilson's (1999) article was one of the most applicable of the group, not necessarily because of his theory, which could be considered weak and abstract in its combining of scholarly theories without direct recommendation, but in his accurate portrayal of the field of state economic development. In naming the field complex, and most of the scholarship inferior, Wilson (1999) allows readers to understand the challenges that they must meet when drafting their own ideas about state economic development. Of the three other proposals, Trogen and Brierly and Costello's are the most relevant for immediate implication. Trogen's specific advice -- that incentives increase economic development, but only do a point of diminishing returns -- paired with Brierly and Costello's -- that investing in capital will lead to short-term gains -- gives states an immediate plan of action from which to reference and implement in order to cause growth immediately. Feiock, on the other hand, brings unique solutions to the table that may be called upon on a later date to increase long-term development. Thus, state economic development has been a field of implementation and study for decades. While many scholars have proposed multiple theories in regards to this discipline, each can be evaluated based on its strengths and weaknesses along with other, similar, theories for a comprehensive view of the field.


1. Trogen, Paul. Which Economic Development Policies Work? Determinants of State Per Capita Income.

2. Feiock, Richard. Development Policy Competition and Positive Sum Growth: Incentive Competition and it's Alternatives.

3. Bronson, Allen and Robert Costelb. Accounting for State Economic Performance: A Time Series Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Limits of State Economic Policy.

4. Wilson, James: An Institutionalist Take on State Activism…

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