Political Science ETDs

Publication Date



When faced with the integration of international markets, some small producers in the developing world respond with low road' strategies that undermine wages and working conditions while others take the 'high road' to become globally competitive. Existing explanations — macroeconomic policy, human capital development, geography — are unable to account for this variation both across and within sectors. I address this variation by examining workshop-level responses to a government effort to develop and disseminate a lead-free glaze in the Mexican ceramics sector. Many producers have failed to adopt the glaze despite the fact that it promises to improve both their health and their export prospects. I draw on a variety of data to understand which workshops adopt the improved glaze technology: social network and statistical analysis of an original survey; interviews with state and federal officials and workshops in several villages; observation of training programs and meetings of producer groups. I find that upgrading is most likely where state agents work through existing networks of producers, using these social ties as conduits for the flow of information about technology and markets. However, networks of producers at the cluster level are highly uneven, which complicates the task of disseminating information through clusters. Moreover, the weakness of the Mexican state relative to civil society — especially in remote rural areas and highly indigenous areas — has made the formation of public-private ties much more difficult for the state to accomplish.

Degree Name

Political Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Political Science

First Committee Member (Chair)

Schrank, Andrew

Second Committee Member

Stanley, William

Third Committee Member

Peceny, Mark

Fourth Committee Member

Hochstetler, Kathryn

Project Sponsors

National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (Grant # SES-1026767); Social Science Research Council's International Dissertation Research Fellowship (funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation); Fulbright Commission; Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico




Ceramic industries -- Social aspects -- Mexico, Potters -- Mexico -- Social conditions, Diffusion of innovations -- Government policy -- Mexico, Industrial hygiene -- Government policy -- Mexico

Document Type