Architects of Growth? Sub-national Governments and Industrialization in Asia

Architects of Growth? Sub-national Governments and Industrialization in Asia
Date of publication:  2013
Publisher:  Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Number of pages:  394
Code:  BM473
Soft Cover
ISBN: 9789814414531
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Adnan Naseemullah, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 13 Jan 2017. 

Architects of growth? provides a much-needed set of studies that highlights the ways that sub-national governments are key players in Asia’s industrial transformation. …. 

Architects of growth addresses the role of sub-national governments in industrial development through an excellent theoretical overview of the roots of growth in developing countries and a well-structured research design that allows for comparison within and between cases. Hutchinson, in the introductory chapter to the volume, establishes a set of theoretical connections between the literatures on agglomeration, endogenous growth, comparative advantage and the regional politics of Asian countries. By framing regional governance in the context of industrial and technological development, Hutchinson provides a bridge between how we usually understand growth, as the outcome of a series of institutions, and the benefits (and costs) of institutions specific to regional agglomeration. ....

The ways in which these dynamics are explored through the book’s 10 case studies present an excellent example of comparative case study design. Nine out of 10 cases are Asian, but represent countries at quite different levels of development: from the industrialized economies of South Korea and Singapore through high middle-income ASEAN countries to China and India. There have also been significant differences cross-nationally as to the nature of regional governance; the assertive federalism of the Philippines and India contrasts with the activities of municipal and provincial governments in highly centralised states such as Vietnam and China. Yet the volume balances this variation with a structure that facilitates comparability: each chapter addresses the electronics industry, and presents the national context before moving to the sub-national case. In this way, we can see how national and sub-national factors interact within a common sectoral framework. This represents a real accomplishment that is difficult to achieve across chapters written by different authors and cases. ....

Together, the theoretical framework, the volume’s design and the substance of the case studies constitute an important advance that combines the increasing importance of looking below the national state with our need to understand the structures that support manufacturing in contemporary Asia. It is also significant that the volume as a whole is not a cheerleader for regionalism, but rather represents a sober judgement of the capabilities and significant constraints of regional governments in supporting industry.

Keith Jackson, Asia Pacific Business Review, 28 Sep 2016.
".... Together these papers bring fresh and much-needed light to the opportunities and problems faced by 'sub-national governments' in their quest to promote economic growth and industrialisation in Asia. Already, two strengths of this collection can be identified. Firstly, the division of focus areas is bold in that it defines 'territories' as opposed to 'nations' or 'countries': the structures for economic growth are thus immediately contextualised. Secondly, the focus on 'sub-national governments' heralds a welcome and vital refocus away from sweeping national-level comparisons: as illustrated in this book, it is of limited value when economic analysts talk about growth 'in India' or 'in Malaysia' without taking critical account of the roles played by regional of 'sub-national' makers and implementers of economic policy. In addition, the contributions focus predominantly on policies and practices for growth within a defined and — across Asia — still vibrant industry: high-technology manufacturing or 'IT'. As such, this book offers economic researchers and policy-makers from a range of industrial and national backgrounds a series of lessons that might be generalized across business sectors."

Pacific Affairs
Architects of Growth is essentially a collection of ten case studies on the nature and role of provincial or state governments in growing and nurturing electronics hardware manufacturing across a range of countries in Southeast Asia.

However in the literature the role of the state is very often equated with the central or national government. But in more ways than one the sub-national governments, especially at the level of states or provinces, also do have a strong and important role to play.

It is this multifaceted role of the state that is analyzed by the collection of case studies in the book and given the fact that the role of sub-national entities to the literature on decentralisation, which so far has been preoccupied mainly with governance issues and not commodity producing ones.

The most refreshing aspect of the book is the central question that the editor raises, namely the extent to which sub-national governments design and implement policies to address needs regarding their industrial sectors. This central question is then followed by three sub-questions: (1) when do sub-national governments take on the role of architects?; (2) to what extent can they become the prime drivers of industrialisation; and (3) which of the strategies and policy measures that are available to them are productive, and under what conditions?

That said the book is stimulating and readable and a systematic appreciation of it can lead to the mergence of research on the welfare implications of incentive-induced industrialization at the sub-national level.

About the publication

Once acting as local representatives of the national government and content to let their larger counterparts do the "heavy lifting", state and provincial governments are increasingly expected to be stewards of their economies and deliver sustained growth rates for their citizens. Spurred on by increasing competition, not least from neighbouring territories, sub-national governments are increasingly formulating their own plans for economic development, taking out loans, investing in specialist facilities, and establishing marketing offices abroad.
     Despite this increasingly challenging environment, there is little research on what sub-national governments can or should do to catalyze the development of their economies. Focussing on the electronics sector, this book draws together ten cases of promising states or provinces largely, but not exclusively, from Asia. These dynamic regions have managed to outcompete the primary economic and political centres of power in their countries and are negotiating their own entry into one of the most challenging and demanding sectors. In exploring the issues of agency, autonomy, and state-business relations at the sub-national level, this book aims to shed light on a vital, but overlooked topic.


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