State-Business Relations and Industrial Upgrading in the Digital Era: The Cases of Software and Aerospace Sectors in Mexico (2000–2012)

Abstract: Developing countries face the daunting challenge of stimulating innovation-intensive sectors to increase their participation in the knowledge economy. In this context, two pressing questions arise: What types of state-business relations foster the adoption of industrial upgrading policies? And, what are the mechanisms through which some state-business relations configurations shape the likelihood of policy adoption under more democratic and open conditions? Bridging developmental state and business politics literature, this paper presents a novel framework that posits that the levels of bureaucratic quality and business cohesion generate diverse industrial upgrading policymaking patterns, and thus outcomes. An in-depth case study of the software sector and a cross-case comparison of the aerospace sector in Mexico during the 2000s illustrate and refine the framework. This article makes three main contributions. First, it expands extant political economy theories of industrial upgrading in developing democracies. Second, it improves our understanding of the private sector by carefully analyzing sectoral business cohesion. And third, the paper specifies the mechanisms through which bureaucrats and firms in democratic developing countries collaborate to enact programs that spur high-tech industries in the twenty-first century.