Chapter 15: Change and Continuity in Business Organization: The Roles of the State and Regional Ethnicity in Singapore
Lai Si Tsui-Auch The past few decades have witnessed an ascent of Asian enterprises as important players in the global economy. The extraordinary growth of these enterprises has sparked much research into their management and organization (Clegg and Redding, 1990; Orrú, Biggart and Hamilton, 1997; Yeung, 1998). Among the contending perspectives, the institutional perspective is the most holistic in explaining the emergence, forms of, and practices in these enterprises (see also Chapter 3 in this volume). Drawing upon research into business organizations in Singapore, this chapter argues that the explanatory power of the institutionalist perspective can be strengthened by explaining the roles of the state and regional ethnicity in shaping organizational change amid continuity. Singapore is suitable for revealing organizational change amid continuity, the role of the state, and regional ethnicity. First, Singapore, like many other Asian countries, has undergone political, economic and sociocultural transformations over the past few decades. The research into how its businesses have dealt with rapid development and change will shed light on the experience of their counterparts elsewhere in Asia. Second, the state of Singapore constitutes the major capital in the economy,1 creating and nurturing government-linked corporations (GLCs) to spearhead industrial and infrastructural development. The country is far from exceptional in the paramount role of the state: both South Korea (especially before 1997, see Chang, 2003; Tsui-Auch and Lee, 2003) and China (see The Economist, 2005; Chapter 6 in this volume) have been in the same league. An examination of the role of the...
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