The Economy: Competing Models and Practices of Capitalism (WP2)

The University of Malaya, Malaysia, and the University of Naples L’Orientale, Italy, lead study to assess development models adopted in ASEAN economies and to determine the impact of locally- as well as globally-driven economic change on the legitimacy of these models and their underlying political frameworks. Module 1: Competing models of developmental capitalism, involves an assessment of the varieties of capitalism employed in specific institutional contexts, structured by the state, domestic enterprises of different sorts and global engagements; Module 2: Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and industrial parks, will undertake a review of regional production networks examining whether integration has supported or hampered Southeast Asian countries from pursuing industrial upgrading; and Module 3: Labour mobility across different regimes and social security frameworks, involves an appraisal of ‘circulatory migration’, the lives of industrial workers (and, specifically, industrial workers) after they cease to participate in industry, and the consequences and implications for social security policy of the precarization of labour.

Module 1.

A review of the scholarly literature on the evolution of ASEAN countries would indicate the stress on the state’s role in achieving structural change and high economic growth, through a model described as the ‘developmental state’. However, although Southeast Asian countries were inspired by the developmental state model, they had not adhered to its fundamental tenets for reasons ascribed to historical context, the evolving regional division of labour and underlying institutional differences. Moreover, most governments of these countries have been equally inspired by a vastly different model of development, neoliberalism, which endorsed universal-type policies in an open economy with minimal state intervention, while actively promoting the privatization of the public sector, liberalization of trade, deregulation of the economy and a decentralization of administrative functions. By factoring in the importance of crises we propose to undertake both a more informed discussion on how models of development are conceived and in SEA and how these models inform forms of enterprise development, modes of industrialization and state-business-labour relations.

Module 2

FDI-led and export-oriented industrialization is promoted as the most viable model for emerging Southeast Asian economies leading to the creation of Special Economic Zones. , The study on SEZs and industrial parks – within the context of evolving regional production networks – will be based on selected cases in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia Myanmar, the Philippines and Cambodia.

Module 3

This module will look at the mobility of industrial workers across different labour regimes and different social security frameworks. The large-scale expansion of industrialization in Southeast Asia since the late 1980s was characterized by a more fluid movement of people between rural and (often peri-urban) industrial areas, in a process that was described as “circulatory migration”. Precarization of labour has not only occurred at an early stage of industrial development, but also appears to represent a characteristic feature in the process of regional economic integration. Given that a precarious and transient labour force characterizes industrial development in the region, what is the implication for social protection mechanisms in the region?


Edmund Terence Gomez


Pietro Masina

Research Results