Leapfrogging Development: The Political Economy of Telecommunications Restructuring / Telecommunications in Western Asia and the Middle East / Telecommunications Take-Off In

Article excerpt

LEAPFROGGING DEVELOPMENT THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF

TELECOMMUNICATIONS RESTRUCTURING

J.P.Singh, State University of New York Press, 1999, 300 pp.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS IN WESTERN ASIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

Eli M. Noam (ed.), Oxford University Press, 1997, 244 pp.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS TAKE-OFF IN TRANSITION COUNTRIES

Karl-Ernst Schenk, Jorn Kruse and Jurgen Muller (eds.), Avebury, 1997, 252 pp.

One of the fastest growing and most dynamic global industry, telecommunications is emerging as an engine of growth and development worldwide. Issues regarding privatization, restructuring and deregulation are among the common themes discussed in the three books selected for review. The telecommunications industry today is what print technology or the invention of the steam engine was in the mid 15" and 19' centuries, respectively. It has enabled firms and nations to compete along new dimensions. The core of the three books reviewed here can be simply stated: telecommunications has changed and will continue to influence the ability of firms and nations to compete in the global marketplace. The nature of the industry is changing from mostly state-owned enterprises to increasingly privately owned and operated entities.

Privatization and deregulation of the telecommunications industry throughout Southwest Asia has intensified, utilizing a variety of strategies, all of which have been dominated by the importance of responding to new needs while attempting to meet existing demand. Transitional and emerging markets from India to Iran, Sri Lanka, and Eastern Europe have experienced deregulation, allowing the private sector to provide services, thereby rapidly changing the telecommunications landscape in the region. Private-sector participation is generating interest and accelerating foreign and domestic investment in the industry.

Globalization of the telecommunications industry has contributed to greater access to information and the reassessment of trade and entry barriers. Privatization and deregulation policies and strategies have been implemented through varying methods and timelines. The impact of the industry on markets and nations calls for a true evaluation of the industry's effects on overall economic development. This assessment, while largely on a national scale to date, will soon require a more in-depth regional analysis. As trade barriers are broken and trade blocs are strengthened, global economic integration and technology are profoundly reshaping the scope of the telecommunications industry. A complex industry structure is emerging in which upstart and incumbent carriers compete intensely with more established firms.

The three works reviewed here, which specifically address the telecommunications industry in transitional economies and emerging markets, present their frameworks from the regional perspectives of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe.

Leapfrogging Development. The Political Economy of Telecommunications Restructuring Leapfrogging Development is a very useful addition to the collection of literature on the subject. J. P. Singh examines the questions of expedited development through an analysis of the telecommunications industry from a political economy approach. The author moves beyond a basic macro-economic perspective. As Singh says, his book "focuses more heavily on the macro context of sectoral and subsectoral restructuring than vice versa" (p. 11).

Singh takes the research beyond a face-value assumption of the relevance of telecommunications development and economic growth and into a framework which addresses the driving force of supply and demand. Leapfrogging Development sorts through the layers of restructuring efforts from both macro-economic and micro-economic perspectives.

Singh's book is structured into three parts. As a whole they clearly define the political economy of telecommunications restructuring, and apply these concepts in country case studies. …