Different modes of economic coordination constitute a key aspect of the Comparative Capitalisms research framework. With regard to emerging economies, the close relationship between the state and business has been perceived negatively as an instance of corruption and patrimonialism that are considered to be economically harmful. This paper addresses the puzzle why some large emerging economies – China, India, and Brazil in particular – have seen considerable economic growth since the 2000s despite such ‘failures’ or ‘institutional deficits’. We find strong evidence for a public–private mode of coordination based on reciprocity. This inter-personal mode of coordination helps to explain an unexpected degree of institutional coherence of capitalism, albeit to different degrees, in the large emerging economies under scrutiny. We argue that while there is evidence of economically productive public–private coordination in China and India, economic coordination in Brazil by comparison is much more contested, and thus less beneficial economically.