This book explores the process of economic development in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand over the past four decades in order to advance two principal propositions. First, to demonstrate that significant dissimilarities exist in the developmental experiences of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to devalue generalised explanations for their economic success. Existing analyses of economic development, typical of positivist social science, display such a tendency for over generalisation in order to construct universal or region-wide models.
Second, that while Dependency Theories, per se, were guilty of such generalisation, and had been criticised for being both logically and theoretically flawed, dependent relationships nonetheless continue to be observed between domestic and foreign capital in the developing world. Furthermore, recent studies (e.g. Bernard and Ravenhill, 1995; Haggard, 1990; 1992; 1995) revealed that such situations of dependency exist even in the most dynamic areas of the developing world. Consequently, the second proposition advanced in this book is that if situations of dependency exist in specific sectors of the economies of the developing world, then analysis of those situations of dependency reveals the problems and obstacles faced by policy-makers in devising developmental strategies.
A number of articles and books inspired this investigation into the economic development of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Much of the literature and indeed the author's theoretical background falls within the study of International Political Economy (IPE). However, in pursuing this research it was necessary to move outside the broad parameters of this field of enquiry into a series of other disciplines of which Development Studies was the most significant. Nonetheless, this book examines Southeast Asia's economic development from an IPE perspective, using this perspective to criticise some of the conclusions drawn about the region within Development Studies and within more area-specific studies.
The development of this research emerged from a previous investigation into the way in which the capitalist state is responding to the growing globalisation of production. Contrary to debates about the withering away of the state (Cerny, 1993; 1994; Strange, 1995) and the triumph of a neo-liberal hegemonic ideology (e.g. Gill, 1990), I argued with Palan in State Strategies