Skills and Upgrading in Southeast Asia
Chapter 3: Some Preliminary Evidence
This book claims that systemic vulnerability shapes the breadth of coalitions and the level of participation of its members. As breadth and participation rise, the ability to create productive public–private interactions also rises, increasing society’s ability to develop institutions that lead to higher levels of intellectual capital, a core ingredient of long-term, sustainable economic upgrading. Alternatively, less vulnerable conditions create incentives for more narrow, less participative coalitions. The results are fewer productive linkages, fewer institutions capable of handling the tasks of upgrading and, hence, less technical intellectual capital. What is the evidence behind these arguments? This chapter conducts preliminary tests on these hypotheses by evaluating correlative evidence, both qualitative and quantitative. The point is that before explaining how things happen, it would be nice to know how confident we are whether they happened. After evaluating the strength of correlative relationships in this chapter, I then explore in subsequent chapters the causal relationships behind the correlations through comparative process tracing – the work of examining causal explanations both over time and across cases. Three steps are useful in determining the extent and strength of hypothesized relationships. The first, qualitative matching within the countries of Southeast Asia, provides control for regional variation and considers the counterfactuals on several key variables. This effort is designed to eliminate potential alternative correlative relationships, thereby relieving any worries of omitted-variable bias. The second is a regional comparison between Northeast and Southeast Asia using both qualitative and quantitative data. Whereas the first effort is designed to eliminate...
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