A New Agenda
INTRODUCTION I address this distinguished audience with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is my immense privilege to share with you some thoughts on the subject of the competitiveness of Asian enterprises. On the other hand, I do so with a real sense of reticence, and, indeed, unease. This unease stems from the fact that, as little as a decade ago, rather than someone like myself standing here before you, it would have been much more appropriate for an Asian economist or business scholar to be addressing a Western audience on the regaining of competitiveness by US or European enterprises. For at that time, you well know, it was towards Japan, and to some of the newly industrializing Asian economies – notably Singapore and Hong Kong – that occidental observers and practitioners were looking to tap into the secrets of high and increasing productivity, good labour and government–ﬁrm relations, and resounding export successes. What, then, has happened over the last ten years or so, during which time the USA and, to a lesser extent, European ﬁrms have not only recaptured much of their earlier competitiveness, but are now leaders in the innovation of an impressive range of cutting-edge technologies, especially bio- and information–related technologies? Essentially, I would suggest that the rejuvenation of the US economy (and I will concentrate on the US economy if I may) reﬂects four things. Credit for the ﬁrst three, a market-friendly institutional and commercial infrastructure, well conceived and efﬁciently implemented macroeconomic policies,...
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