East Asia, Economic Development and Finance Capitalism

I attended the 4th International Conference of the Nepalese Academy of Management held at the Yak and Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu, which was successfully completed. This was after I had done some teaching of MBA students at GCI the preceding week. My paper at the conference was entitled “East Asia, Economic Development and Finance Capitalism.” Here is the abstract:

The emergence of Northeast, East and Southeast Asia (which are jointly referred to as ‘East Asia’ here) has been one of the defining features of global development since the end of World War II and the period of European decolonisation in the region. This is true not just because of the size and scope of development but also in the ways in which it has been achieved: development has regularly followed government-led models of different sorts. The implications of this represent one of the principal issues this paper explores. East Asian development has directly and repeatedly contradicted the nostrums of the neoliberal consensus, in the various forms in which this has been manifested, while continuing to demonstrate the importance of the state in guiding and promoting economic development within the territories over which it has control. This does not, of course, mean that state-led development is either sufficient or necessary in itself. However, it is certainly proof that the prominence of the state and its instruments is no bar to the improvements required: as the well-known saying should have it, the government is part of the solution. That does not mean that all instances of government-led economic development have been successful, in East Asia as for anywhere else. The issues to consider, therefore, are under what conditions can government-led interventions be successful in achieving economic development, what are the forms of intervention that are successful and why and, finally, to what extent can those conditions be replicated in other countries? The answers in this case lie in the ways in which businesses can be created and expanded and where can lessons be learned for application in other countries or territories.


Internationalization of Cultural, Ethical and Educational Issues


Limpabandhu, Buncha and John Walsh, “Internationalization of Cultural, Ethical and Educational Issues,” International Journal of Development and Management Sciences, Vol.1, No.1 (December, 2016), pp.66-86, available at: http://crcltd.org/images/Internationalization%20of%20Cultural,%20Ethical%20and%20Educational%20Issues.pdf.


East Asia boasts considerable diversity in the philosophical and religious thought systems that underlie and inform individual and organizational behavior. International best practice, spread through business schools, has reduced differences in behavior in different parts of the world in this regard but it is still possible to obtain benefits from studying and understanding that diversity and its impact. This paper itemizes some of the major thought systems in the area and seeks to understand their impact on epistemology and business practice. Keywords: East Asia Epistemology, Philosophy, Religion

Challenges of Urbanization in East Asia

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Announcing: Palasak, Ratana and John Walsh, “Challenges of Urbanization in East Asia,” Pacific Business Review International, Vol.9, No.1 (July, 2016), pp.101-8, available at: http://pbr.co.in/july2016/13.pdf.


This paper addresses the issues surrounding urbanization in the East Asian region. The paper begins by considering the reasons for urbanization and, therefore, the nature and shape of that urbanization. It then goes on to consider the various impacts of the phenomenon as they have affected social and workplace relations, as a result of changes in lifestyles and environment. This leads to the consideration of the agglomeration effects of urbanization and the possibilities and prospects for networked cities in the region. It is concluded that numerous structural and systemic changes must be made by nearly every state in the region before the benefits of networked and smart cities can be harvested.


Challenges of the Knowledge-Based Economy in East Asia


Vongbunsin, Virachai and John Walsh, “Challenges of the Knowledge Based Economy in East Asia,” Information Management and Business Review (forthcoming).


The knowledge-based economy (KBE) is widely considered to be the foundation of the next stage of economic growth, following agriculture, manufacturing and services. Countries seeking to enter the KBE must take care to ensure that their resources – particularly human resources – are willing and able to fulfil the roles requested of them. That in turn means that countries must be aware of what challenges and difficulties they will face in taking this next step in development. This paper attempts to outline at the macro-social level the issues involved in this process with a view to identifying an agenda of state-level developmental goals to be tackled.

Advances in Agricultural Production in East and Southeast Asia


I will be presenting this paper at Stamford University’s 2nd National Conference on Management and Higher Education: Advances in Agricultural Production in East and Southeast Asia.

Abstract: At the end of the Second World War and prior to the period of rapid economic development, just about every East Asian economy remained dominated by agriculture and the majority of people relied on subsistence agriculture for survival. Agricultural societies are very closely related to the land on which they live. This close relationship is often accorded a powerfully emotional or at least sentimental value in the minds of East Asian people: in Japan, for example, the word furasato is used to describe a rural heartland from which the whole nation arises and, associated with that, a set of moral values that are related to small community living that has changed with the increasing importance of globalization and modernization. Since farmers are subsidized in different ways in nearly every East Asian society, this represents a mixture of different emotions, particularly among the urban populations, in which farmers are at the same time possessors of inherited virtue and, also, reminders of backwardness and lack of sophistication. These contradictions are evident throughout the treatment of agriculture and farmers in the region. The earliest use of settled agriculture probably took place in China and, owing to the below-average availability of water in the northern part of the China region, featured often extensive use of irrigation to ensure that food crops – millet, wheat and rice, for example – grew properly. When agricultural practices spread to Southeast Asia and other parts of the region, therefore, farmers tended to adopt the Chinese patterns familiar elsewhere. The preference for rice-growing and, specifically, wet paddy-rice farming, made water management a particularly important issue and one which became central to the legitimization of the state and its rulers. Rice farming supplemented existing forms of food production, including fishing, hunting and foraging, which remain important for many people today. Fishing in both fresh and sea water in particular remains an important industry and a means of feeding people. The export of seafood products, prawns and shellfish for example, represents significant streams of income for a number of countries and recent emphasis on cash crops such as coffee and macadamia nuts offers new and often lucrative opportunities for some groups of people, including ethnic minority groups, who might otherwise have been marginalized. This paper examines the importance of agriculture in helping develop East Asian economic growth and, also, its continuing relevance as an industry in its own right that provides employment and numerous opportunities to add value to local resources. It continues with an evaluation of the continued importance of agriculture to East Asia and then continues with analysis of various aspects of agriculture and business.

Special Economic Zones in East Asia: Form; Purpose and Development

My abstract has been accepted for inclusion in a forthcoming handbook on development to be published by Routledge in 2015:

Special Economic Zones in East Asia: Form; Purpose and Development


The special economic zone (SEZ) has become an absolutely central central symbol and representation of the Factory Asia paradigm: low labour-cost competitiveness in export-oriented, import-substituting manufacturing in geographical areas bound in space and time where the interests of capital are placed above those of labour. The success of this approach in promoting rapid economic development is attested to by the enormous spread of SEZs to every country in the East Asia region. Using them in this way is very logical for governments eager for the benefits of rapid development. However, that desire for growth is not always matched by a desire for democracy and SEZs have been used to funnel resources towards important international and domestic investors while allowing just enough to trickle down to prevent widespread social disorder, at least for some period of time. Until the Lewisian point is reached, wages can be repressed through drawing more workers from the agricultural sector because no matter how exploitative or alienating workplace conditions within SEZ factories might be, jobs within them remain popular because they offer the ability to purchase consumer goods. After the Lewisian point is reached, greater use of force is usually used through suppression of freedom of speech, freedom of association and collective bargaining, as well as the use of violence. Eventually, the limits of the Factory Asia growth model will be reached as part of the Middle Income Trap that means that the methods by which a state can raise itself from low income to middle income status are not the same as the methods by which it can move from middle income to high income status. SEZs can play an important economic role in moving to the high income stage through becoming centres of connectivity that link together the places of production with the places of consumption. As Alfred Marshall pointed out in the nineteenth century, the presence of complementary firms in close proximity with each other provides numerous forms of innovation and productivity improvements. These areas then join international investment with local small and medium-sized enterprises and can transfer technology to the benefit of domestic companies, institutions and consumers. However, the theoretical benefits that SEZs might bring are often not realized in practice owing to factors such as poor governance and mismatch of objectives. This paper examines the different types and forms of SEZs and looks at how their role changes through time and through the development trajectory followed by most East Asian states.

Keywords: East Asia; economic development; labour; Middle Income Trap; special economic zones.

There will be a workshop in Seoul in August 25-26th for authors to present their papers and discuss the process of publishing.

Marx and East Asian Globalization


My abstract has been accepted for a special issue of the International Journal (http://www.inderscience.com/jhome.php?jcode=ijpee) with the first draft due in May.


Although Marx’s concept of the Asiatic Mode of Production is of very limited value in understanding the rapid industrialization of East and Southeast Asia, his analysis of the processes of globalization and the dissolution of all bonds other than those constituted by money are of great use. Capital, the Communist Manifesto and the various political writings contain passages that describe the imperialism of capitalist production in overseas lands and the processes this sets in motion. The history of modern East and Southeast Asia is replete with examples of the arrival of capitalist investment an introduction of accumulation by alienation  and dispossession, with the transformation of societies and social relations as a result. From Japan and the Newly Industrializing Economies of the 1950s and 60s to China, Cambodia and Vietnam today, capitalist investment has unleashed the creative destruction of capitalism and brought about crises and resolutions with the pre-existing political settlements and the elites who protect them. Further, subsequent writers working in the Marxist tradition, from Gramsci to Harvey, have extended the original analysis to provide greater understanding of areas such as the relationships between states in the region to the spatial allocation of particular activities and the management of otherwise unstable situations. This paper first outlines Marx’s work in the area of the globalization of capitalist investment and production, then indicates the ways it has been extended in various important areas, before seeking to show the relevance of these analyses to modern East and Southeast Asian history.

(So, starting a new project before finishing all existing ones – scratch that New Year’s Resolution then.)