Rising Powers and Interdependent Futures

law court exterior

Law Development and Finance in Rising Powers

Project details

Discipline: Law
Funded Period: April 2013 – March 2015
Rising powers: Brazil, China, India, Russia


The project explores the role of law in economic development in the four ‘rising powers’ of China, Russia, India and Brazil. For over a decade, with the encouragement of the World Bank and western governments, developing countries have adopted programmes of legal and financial reform combining privatisation of state-owned banks and enterprises with the enactment of enhanced legal protections for shareholders and creditors. These reform initiatives were supported by research which suggested that the legal framework governing corporate governance and financial markets had a pivotal role to play in creating the conditions for economic growth in low and middle-income countries.

More recently, an emerging body of empirical work, based on case studies of emerging markets including those of the ‘rising powers’, suggests that law-centred reforms have been irrelevant or counter-productive. Formal legal institutions, it is suggested, crowd out economic cooperation based on trust, and obstruct the developmental role of the activist state. The picture emerging from these experiences is one in which formal and informal institutions do not necessarily operate in tension. Rather, they may complement each other in providing the foundations for sustainable economic growth and societal development.

Our research explores this process through a combination of quantitative analysis of macro and micro-level data and extensive field work in the countries concerned. Using these multiple methods, we will arrive at a richer and more nuanced picture of the role of the legal system in economic development than has so far been obtained. The work will provide a clearer understanding of the institutional barriers to growth in emerging markets and of the role of legal and financial reforms in overcoming them. It will be of considerable interest to policy-makers in international financial institutions and national-level governments and to a range of private-sector actors including industrial, financial and legal service firms with interests in the economies of the rising powers.

Project team

Principal Investigator

Professor Simon Deakin, University of Cambridge (s.deakin@cbr.cam.ac.uk).

Other members of the core team


Svetlana Andrianova, University of Leicester
John Armour, University of Oxford
Gregory James, Loughborough University
Mathias Siems, Durham University

Research Associates and Research Fellows

Sveta Borodina, University of Cambridge
Ding Chen, Newcastle University
John Hamilton, University of Cambridge
Caroline Schmidt, University of Oxford
Boya Wang, University of Cambridge


Workshop on Labour Standards and Labour Law Reforms in the Rising Powers: Trends and Prospects in Public and Private Regulations, University of Cambridge, 5-6 September 2016

In a recent workshop held in Cambridge in September 2016 researchers from the Centre for Business Research (CBR), University of Cambridge, and from the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, discussed the findings from ESRC-funded research. The workshop focused on labour law reforms, labour standards and corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices in Rising Powers, including China, India, South Africa and Brazil.

Workshop on Law and Finance in Rising Powers, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, 9 December 2014

This workshop held at the University of Cambridge brought together researchers associated with several projects under the Rising Powers and Interdependent Futures programme. A series of podcast interviews with speakers at the conference gives a synopsis of their findings.

CCTV programme on rule of law, November 2014

Simon Deakin took part in a discussion on the rule of law on the Chinese CCTV current affairs programme ‘Dialogue’, November 2014

Principal investigator Professor Simon Deakin discusses the project 'Law Development and Finance in Rising Powers'.