This book examines the rapid rise of computer industries in the Asia-Pacific region, identifies the key factors explaining their different levels of success, and draws out the implications for the United States and Asia-Pacific countries as they compete in computers in the emerging network era. The book focuses on Japan's development of a computer industry beginning with mainframes in the seventies, and the development of PC-based computer industries in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan in the eighties. At a broader level, the book traces the evolution of the computer industry from a country- and company-based enterprise to a global industry involving complex, dynamic relationships between companies and countries.
The genesis of this book was the debate in the early nineties concerning the relative merits of plan versus market approaches to economic development. We were persuaded--by key works such as Chalmers Johnson MITI and the Japanese Miracle, Alive Amsden Asia's New Giant on Korea, Robert Wade's Governing the Market on East Asia industrialization, and Marie Anchordoguy's Computers Inc. on Japan's mainframe computer industry--that government policy played a critical role in East Asia's rapid economic growth. We also were intrigued, though less convinced, by the views of political economists who challenged these new views with neoclassical economic explanations for East Asia's postwar growth ( World Bank, The East Asian Miracle). We felt that systematic comparison of the historical development of the computer industries in these five countries would provide a solid basis for examining the relative influence of government policy and market forces.
We discovered that the plan versus market, or country versus company, dichotomy was useful in focusing the analysis but provided insufficient explanation for the differences observed. We identified a new force that came to bear on developments in the computer industry during the PC era, a factor that was not incorporated in previous explanations. This new force was the emergence of a "global production network" that operated more or less in-