Industrialization came to European countries in different periods of time, which could not help marking the substantial difference in the model of their development, factors that produced more or less significant effect on it and the result they achieved in this process. Many researchers and scientists who took up the study of the 19th century industrialization and development in Europe keep to different opinions in aspects of which countries to call advanced or backward, and the set of factors that are considered to spur the development in various spheres. As Gerschenkron notes, historical research is a highly relative sphere that cannot give direct answers to any questions:
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“No past experience, however rich, and no historical research, however thorough, can save the living generation the creative task of finding their own answers and shaping their own future” (6).
Gerschenkron lays out the main factors that influenced the development of backward countries and states in his book that banks as the main financial instigators of progress played a crucial role in the development, the state and its policy adopted towards acceleration of industrialization (e.g. Soviet Russia and Germany with the deep interference of military forces into economic processes), gradations of backwardness (i.e. the ability of the country to implement a coherent process of industrialization that would yield progress and overall enhancement of economy) and the ideology on which delayed industrializations were based are the main factors that shaped industrialization and affected the present state of economies as they are.
In addition, Gerschenkron indicates that the main problem of industrialization in backward countries and the reason for which they will never go ahead advanced countries, surpassing them in industrial development, is that the development process in them is highly imitative – i.e. they borrow technology, know-how and equipment thus moving the steps that advanced countries have already covered (8).
Even at the present moment, disregarding the history of industrial development in European countries in the 19th century, it is reasonable to note the growing tension between countries that have significantly different levels of development – as Sylla and Toniolo admit, “within nations as well as among countries moving along the road of full integration, there will be disagreement concerning economic goals and policies” (3). For this reason looking for points of joint action and similarities in the economic sphere is highly essential for the accomplishment of strategic goals of cooperation and movement towards the joint future in the integrated and globalized world of the future.
Nonetheless, no matter to what the discussion of industrial development of backward countries leads the researchers and at what conclusions they arrive, it is surprising but still reasonable to understand the truth outlined by Anshen (102) – no backward country will be able to become successful in case there is no economic welfare and stability in advanced countries. The reason for this is that in case their economy has reached the state of maturity they will be able to import goods produced by backward countries, thus investing substantial funds in their development and future growth.
In case advanced countries fail to import goods from backward countries, the latter will not find the sources for their further development, which will stagnate the process of industrialization and expansion in general (Anshen 102). For this reason economists and theorists all over the world stress the necessity of globalization and overall integration of economies of all countries to create a supplementary, strong global economy that would benefit its every participant.
Anshen, Ruth Nanda. Beyond Victory. Ayer Publishing, 1971.
Gerschenkron, Alexander. Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Howard University Press (1962): 5-31.
Sylla, Richard, and Gianni Toniolo. Patterns of European industrialization: the nineteenth century. Routledge, 1993.
- different periods of globalization as the reason for the countries’ difference in the modern period of time;
- vague influence of the past on the future noted by Gerschenkron;
- main factors that shaped the industrialization models in most countries;
- borrowed technology as the main challenge for backward countries;
- growing differences in development mark tension and incompliance between modern countries;
- interdependence of success of backward countries and welfare of advanced economies;
- the need for overall integration and globalization.