The persistent reinvention of state-led planning policies in Argentina: exploring path dependencies and policy ruptures

Alves Rolo, Rodrigo


This paper investigates the interplay between institutional continuities and transformations in the making of national planning policies in Argentina since the beginning of the twentieth century until 2015. Building upon evolutionary approaches to path dependence theory, in-depth interviews with planning experts and a re-mining of the historical planning literature in the country, the paper argues that the disruptive and transformative role assigned to exogenous macro-scale events in official accounts of Argentine planning history has been significant, yet regularly overestimated. The study first provides a concise review of these official narratives and, then, introduces an alternative interpretative key for the historical articulation of national planning policies. A shift of focus towards the underlying continuities in the power/knowledge nexus that shape institutional paths of policy evolutions reveals three inertia-building mechanisms: discursive assimilation, organizational solidification and expert adaptation. The inclusion of these mechanisms in historical policy analysis illustrates the potential of more nuanced depictions regarding how common standards to understand planning and govern policy-making unfold in/through complex contexts of institutional evolution. In this way, attentiveness to these elusive continuities in power/knowledge configurations may trigger or inform new and more acute narratives of the historical articulation of planning policy formations.