SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Industrial Development and Policy

Research Aims

The Industrial Development Policy (IDP) research cluster at SOAS encourages research on the political economy of industrial development and policy. It involves scholars, mainly from the Economics and Development Studies Departments, with extensive research and policy experience in both developing and developed countries, in particular Africa, South East Asia, Europe’s periphery and major industrial economies. The IDP cluster is connected to an international network of leading centres and scholars in the industrial development and policy fields, including international agencies such as UNDP and UNCTAD, and leading academic research centres, such Cambridge University and Columbia University.
We understand countries’ industrial development as a structural transformation process within and across manufacturing industries, involving changes in related production activities in the agricultural and service sectors. Particular emphasis is given to the political economy of industrial policy in different development contexts. The variety of policy models, industrial policy packages and specific policy tools are considered to identify emerging trends in industrial policy practice across countries. Learning from successes and failures in different political, institutional and structural environments is a fundamental starting point for increasing industrial policy-making effectiveness.

Research Themes

By adopting a distinctive comparative political economy perspective in combination with in-depth country and industry studies, the IDP research cluster focuses on a broad spectrum of micro, structural and macro themes. These include:

  • the development of firm-level and collective production capabilities
  • production structures and technical change
  • regional clusters and global production networks
  • inter-sectoral dynamics and structural change
  • intermediate institutions, technology infrastructure and industrial finance
  • the macroeconomics conditions supporting industrial development.

A major focus of our work is the contested domain of industrial policy at both the national and international levels, with an emphasis on the industrial policy process, the management of rents and policy enforcement, the trade-offs and challenges of sustainable industrial development, improvements in labour conditions and poverty reduction, and international trade and regulation.   

Research and Policy Activities

The IDP research cluster supports its members in developing joint research and publication projects, identifying complementarities across SOAS and connecting SOAS researchers with the international research community. It works as a point of reference for the SOAS community of doctoral researchers and research associates focusing on these themes. Research activities are organised in a modular way, with different groups within the cluster involved in a variety of projects. Given the plurality of research and policy engagements of its members, the cluster also works as a platform to share preliminary results, experiences and data for comparative studies.

Events and Joint Initiatives

Together with the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University, the SOAS Economics Department hosts the Babbage Lecture Series, which features leading thinkers in the field of industrial development and policy. Past speakers include Ha-Joon Chang (Cambridge University) and Robert Wade (London School of Economics). The coordinator of the Babbage Industrial Policy Network, Antonio Andreoni, is also the IDP research cluster convener.