I am back from Korea now, where I gave a keynote address at the 8th International Inter-University Cooperation Program Conference held at Kyung Hee University and organised by Chiang Rai Rajabhat University. It went well, I thought. Here is the abstract:
East Asian states that have achieved rapid industrialization and modernization have done so in a variety of different ways. The states vary in terms of important categories (e.g. large/small, weak/strong institutions, resource-rich/poor) and also in terms of global conditions and the external environment. A Neo-Gramscian analytical framework is employed to examine the nature of conditions in Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan as a means of understanding previous trajectories of development and what lessons they might provide for countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and China which are following in their footsteps. Particular attention is paid to Korea and its movement to the high income bracket through embracing the creative economy and knowledge economy. This involved not just adjusting the economic conditions but in opening the country to a more intense form of democratization, permitting greater freedom of expression and, hence, encouraging innovation. The question is put as to whether countries such as Thailand are ready to make this same leap of faith. Finally, the implications of both changing and not changing are discussed for labour markets in the countries concerned.