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1Our call for submissions on the subject of ‘Institutions, regulation and development’ aroused so much interest that the articles selected have given rise to two special sections (issues 6 and 7). The contributions relate mainly to the debates presently underway and approaches feeding academic research on institutions, regulation and development.

2The retrospective aspect, which involves a critical review of Regulation theory research in the study of development, has been addressed by Noureddine El Aoufi (issue 6). The author questions the relations between a school of thought – the Regulation school – and a field of investigation – development economics.

3The success encountered by the call for submissions attracted contributions more oriented towards contemporary theoretical and empirical issues, as reflected in the particularly large place accorded to the ‘Opinion-Debates’ section.

4In recent years, new branches have emerged within development economics and this phenomenon provides Véronique Dutraive (issue 6) with an opportunity to explore the New Institutionalist research programme. Stressing the considerable influence institutional economics has recently exerted on development economics, she offers a particularly enlightening interpretation of the contributions, but also the limitations, of this approach. The new development economics practiced at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL, co-directed by Esther Duflo, MIT), meanwhile, is the subject of an epistemological and historical analysis by Agnès Labrousse (issue 7), who shows that this approach could turn out to be a complement to mesoeconomics and political economy of development, but not a substitute for it.

5The variety of the entry points chosen by the authors illustrates the broad spectrum covered by the contemporary field of development studies. But what the different articles have in common is the innovative light they shed on the issue of development through a perspective which is at once critical and multidisciplinary.

A critical institutionalist perspective

6 The articles in issue 6 converge on two levels: they undertake an investigation of the field of contemporary development economics and give a pronounced institutionalist dimension to the authors’ critical approach. Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux’s review (issue 6) of a recent reprint of an article by Gunnar Myrdal also recalls just how pioneering institutionalist approaches to development were, and how relevant they remain, well beyond the recent success of a neo-institutionalism which is often forgetful where this heritage is concerned. In addition, historical institutionalism has long been involved with the field of development as a complex socioeconomic and institutional phenomenon – well before the second half of the twentieth century, as demonstrated by the research of List or the German historical school from Schmoller to Weber which Bertram Schefeld discusses in an interview (issue 7). Mickaël Clévenot’s revue of the volume of essays on institutions and development (issue 7) shows in turn the contemporary liveliness of these institutionalist currents in the renewal of development economics. Isabelle Hillenkamp (issue 6), meanwhile, addresses the present spread of the popular economy in Latin America, the institutions it mobilises and its effectiveness in terms of development and the reduction of poverty. Muriel Périsse (issue 6) considers the risks surrounding the wage-labour nexus which has emerged in China with the reforms. She shows that its main feature is the total dependency on the balance of power because of the lack of intermediate institutions in the labour market. Pepita Ould Ahmed (issue 7), meanwhile, sheds light on the institutionalist dimension of currency through the experience of the credito, a local currency which appeared in Argentina in 1995 for a share of the population without financial resources. She shows that despite the desire of the founders of the neighbourhood ‘barter markets’ to create autonomous monetary spaces as alternatives to the official monetary system, this private currency could not be completely detached from the official currency.

7This critical dimension, albeit one which is neither uniform nor systematically radical, also characterises other articles in issue 7. Jean-Michel Servet thus makes a radical critique of development assistance through a sharp attack on the accompanying rhetoric which has fed it for more than six decades (issue 7). Gautier Pirotte offers a cautious assessment of the achievements and ambiguities of the idea of civil society in development policies and practices (issue 7). Adopting yet another approach, Alain Piveteau and Éric Rougier (issue 7, ‘Opinion-Debates’) call for going beyond current analyses in development economics and establishing a new research agenda around the concept of economic emergence.

8Benoît Prévost’s essay (issue 7, ‘Opinion-Debates’) is situated at the intersection of the history of ideas and development economics. It demonstrates how Douglas North’s analysis has contributed to a better understanding of the connection between institutions and economic development. And the interview with Pierre Salama (issue 7) traces the intellectual itinerary of one of the mainstays of heterodox development economics in France.

A multidisciplinary perspective

9The multidisciplinary approach is particularly clear in issue 7. Three of the articles are revised versions of papers presented at the interdisciplinary conference on ‘The Words of Development’ which was held in Paris in November 2008.

10Taken together, the different contributions give rise to a stimulating dialogue between the humanities and the social sciences. Thus, anthropologist Agnès Bergeret’s article (issue 7) invites economists to look differently at the question of food security and peace in Guatemala. Ramine Motamed-Nejad’s review essay on the multi-authored  L’argent des anthropologues, la monnaie des économistes (The anthropologists’ money, the economists’ currency, issue 6) brings out the considerable importance of an interdisciplinary approach combining anthropology and economics (issue 6). This multidisciplinary aspect is present as well in Thierry Kirat’s review of Économie politique de la corruption et de la gouvernance (The political economy of corruption and governance, issue 7).

11A similar call for interdisciplinary research also comes from Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, in his interview with the Revue de la Régulation (issue 6). Trained as an economist, he explains his frustration with standard economics research. In his view, closer connections between economics, sociology and anthropology are necessary for a better understanding of the institutional, cultural and political dimensions of the economic problems faced by today’s developing economies. In this interview, the Ecuadorian president discusses more broadly the motivations and methods of the reforms underway in his country and throughout Latin America. The common goal of such reforms is to put an end to the neoliberal policies inherited from the Washington Consensus and encourage Latin-American countries to adopt a ‘new development model’ which he sketches out in the interview.

12These observations by a leading political figure reinforce the overall impression arising from the reading of the scholarly articles published in this special section: development economics is presently undergoing profound renewal. We can only hope that these articles will contribute to it and stimulate the production of a new generation of research.

13Within the Editorial Board, Marie Coris, Agnès Labrousse, Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux, Thomas Lamarche, Sabine Montagne and Jean-Francois Ponsot were the main architects of this special section.

14The publication of this double issue on development has also provided us with the opportunity to encourage the distribution of the Revue de la Régulation in Spanish-speaking countries. Abstracts and keywords in Spanish are now integrated into the journal through the assistance participation of Julio César Neffa, professor of economics and director of the CEIL-PIETTE research centre at the University of Buenos Aires, who has kindly taken charge of the translations. In the name of the Editorial Board, our warmest thanks go out to him.

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« Introduction », Revue de la régulation [En ligne], 6 | 2e semestre / Autumn 2009, mis en ligne le 28 décembre 2012, consulté le 23 mai 2018. URL :

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