Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Globalisation, Technology, and Asian Economic Growth

Author: S.M. Naseem

Although globalisation is by no means a recent phenomenon,1 its new wave has raised a number of questions—both about its supposed benefits and its alleged adverse consequences. Rather than exploring the wider ramifications of globalisation, this paper will confine its purview to the question of technology development and dissemination in the context of globalisation as it has affected the development of Asian economies in the last few decades. In particular, the paper will focus on the somewhat dazzling performance of the East Asian economies in the last three decades and their equally sharp and unforeseen downturn in the past two years, which has raised serious doubts first about the replicability and later about the robustness of the East Asian development experience. Although the palpable cause of the current East Asian crisis has generally been situated in the increasing complexity and fragility of the global financial system, many prescient international economists had attributed it to the weakness of the technological underpinnings of East Asian growth [Krugman (1994)]. The East Asian crisis has also raised a lively controversy concerning the impact and desirability of selective micro-economic interventions by national governments, which have often been oversimplified under the rubric of ‘crony capitalism’. While the debate on which causes contributed most to the sudden down-turn in the growth of the East Asian economies remains inconclusive, there seems considerable validity in the conjecture that their future growth prospects will depend on their ability not only to master current technologies, but also to significantly further their technological prowess through R and D and scientific achievement. Although the immediate trigger of the present crisis in East Asia may have been the turmoil in their financial markets, the underlying problems in the real economy, which have so far received insufficient attention, stem largely from their incommensurate technological development.

S.M. Naseem