Walsh, John, “Management Issues in Cambodian Industrial Estates,” paper to be presented at the International Conference on Global Business Environment (ICGBE) (Bangkok: Feburary, 2012).
The theoretical argument for industrial estates – special economic zones bounded in time and space in which different legal systems apply and industrialization and globalization take place – has become well-established since first being set down by Marshall. Industrial estates have subsequently become important parts of most efforts at creating versions of the East Asian Economic Model (EAEM) – that is, the state-led development model that focuses on import-substituting, export-oriented, low labour-cost manufacturing approach. For many people, the experience of the EAEM is to enter the factory age, with all the opportunities and alienation that provides. This same approach is now becoming apparent in Cambodia, which is a relatively poor Mekong Region country with a lengthy recent history of warfare, genocide and instability. Across the country, industrial estates are being opened with a view to attracting both domestic and international capital for investment in factories there, currently primarily in the textiles and clothing sectors but with a view to expanding production in line with new opportunities emerging in the international market generally and as a result of the forthcoming ASEAN Economic Community in particular. However, the management of industrial estates at a variety of scales and levels can be problematic, as has been seen in the similar approaches used in other East Asian countries. This paper draws upon the experiences of other East Asian countries in managing the industrial estate project and highlights some of the principal issues that are likely to need to be resolved in the foreseeable future.