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Revista de Sociologia e Política

versão impressa ISSN 0104-4478versão On-line ISSN 1678-9873


NUNES, Wellington. Public policies and state capacity building: comparing industrial and social policies in Brazil. Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2020, vol.28, n.73, e004.  Epub 26-Jun-2020. ISSN 1678-9873.


This article deals with state capacities as a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the process of public policy production. The main interest lies in the failure of industrial policies during the Workers’ Party governments. The research question that guides our analysis is: why did those industrial policy programs fail?

Materials and Methods:

We adopt a comparative approach between institutional arrangements of industrial and social policies during 2004-2014. The chosen technique, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), allows verifying associative patterns between conditions and results in small n research designs through systematic comparison between them.


We found that different levels of capacities found in the industrial and in the social policy arrangements are associated with results and innovative practices (or the lack of it). The levels of capabilities (understood as causal conditions) are in fact associated with the outcome variables (defined as product delivery and innovation).


The analysis corroborates the widespread interpretation that success in producing public policies in democratic contexts depends to a large extent on the process of capacity building.

Palavras-chave : public policy; industrial policies; capacity building; comparative analysis; QCA.

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