Institutions and national development in Latin America: A comparative study

Alejandro Portes, Lori D. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We review the theoretical and empirical literature on the role of institutions in national development as a prelude to presenting a more rigorous and measurable definition of the concept and a methodology to study this relationship at the national and subnational levels. The existing research literature features conflicting definitions of the concept of 'institutions' and empirical tests based mostly on reputational indices, with countries as units of analysis. The present study's methodology is based on a set of five strategic organizations studied comparatively infive Latin American countries. These include key federal agencies, public administrative organizations and stock exchanges. Systematic analysis of results shows a pattern of differences between economically oriented institutions and those entrusted with providing basic services to the general population. Consistent differences in institutional quality also emerge across countries, despite similar levels of economic development. Implications of the results for theory and for methodological practices of future studies in this field are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbermwq018
Pages (from-to)585-621
Number of pages37
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 8 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Boolean algebra
  • Development
  • Institutions
  • Latin America
  • Organizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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