The industrialization process in Mexico began before that of any other nation in Latin America except Argentina, with the most rapid expansion of new industrial firms occurring in the 1930s and 1940s, and import substitution in capital goods evident as early as the late 1930s. Though Mexico’s trade relations have always been dependent on the United States, successive Mexican presidents in the postwar period attempted to control the penetration of foreign capital into Mexican markets.
In Industry, the State, and Public Policy in Mexico, Dale Story, recognizing the significance of the Mexican industrial sector, analyzes the political and economic role of industrial entrepreneurs in postwar Mexico. He uses two original data sets—industrial production data for 1929–1983 and a survey of the political attitudes of leaders of the two most important industrial organizations in Mexico—to address two major theoretical arguments relating to Latin American development: the meaning of late and dependent development and the nature of the authoritarian state. Story accepts the general relevance of these themes to Mexico but asserts that the country is an important variant of both.
With regard to the authoritarian thesis, the Mexican authoritarian state has demonstrated some crucial distinctions, especially between popular and elite sectors. The incorporation of the popular sector groups has closely fit the characteristics of authoritarianism, but the elite sectors have operated fairly independently of state controls, and the government has employed incentives or inducements to try to win their cooperation.
In short, industrialists have performed important functions, not only in accumulating capital and organizing economic enterprises but also by bringing together the forces of social change. Industrial entrepreneurs have emerged as a major force influencing the politics of growth, and the public policy arena has become a primary focus of attention for industrialists since the end of World War II.