Competitiveness, Technology and Skills

Competitiveness, Technology and Skills

Sanjaya Lall

This book draws together recent contributions by Sanjaya Lall – a leading authority on international investment, technology and industrial policy – on competitiveness and its major determinants. It draws upon his wide experience of competitiveness analysis in Asian and African countries and his recent work on technology and skills. It contains his most important published material as well as previously unpublished articles, and will be of interest to students, researchers and policy analysts interested in industrial development, technology and human resources.

Chapter 9: Competitiveness Challenges in the New Asian Tigers: Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines

Sanjaya Lall

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, industrial economics, innovation and technology, technology and ict

Extract

INTRODUCTION This chapter brings together some work on competitiveness challenges in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines – three Asian economies that have not yet acquired the technological or competitive status of the original Asian Tigers Singapore, Korea and Taiwan.1 The material, focusing on skills and technology, is extracted from reports for the World Bank in the mid- to late1990s. While there is some repetition, the analysis helps illustrate the challenges faced by these economies – they remain among the most dynamic in the world but are relatively under-studied.2 It is also useful to look at structural aspects of their economic performance and competitiveness after the hiatus of the financial crisis that diverted attention to relatively short-term issues. These economies differ from the mature Tigers in that none (despite sporadic and unsystematic attempts) has been able to mount similarly comprehensive industrial strategies. Their export growth has been driven more by external forces than by deliberate strategy: this was very successful in the early stages but may not be sufficient to sustain future competitiveness. As wages rise, industrial structures grow more complex and technologies more demanding, competitiveness will involve a different, more advanced set of skills, capabilities, supply structures and institutions. Some of these needs can only be met by strategic interventions by governments, others can be facilitated by the development of relevant institutions. This chapter provides a quick overview of policy needs. Let us start with their competitive position. Chapter 4 showed the mapping of their manufactured exports by technological category; Table...

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