Strategic Coupling: East Asian Industrial Transformation in the New Global Economy

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Strategic Coupling: East Asian Industrial Transformation in the New Global Economy
By Henry Wai-chung Yeung
Cornell University Press, 2016
312 pp.

The theory of the “developmental state” has shaped understandings of how the East Asian “tiger economies” flourished from the 1960s through the 1980s. It attributed their successes to wise interventions by government technocrats. But starting in the early 1990s, states began to be less effective and global markets started becoming more complex, forcing East Asian companies to find ways to compete on their own. Those who succeeded linked up (or, as Yeung says, “coupled”) with ever-larger and more elaborate global supply chains in one of three ways. Some provided cutting-edge design and manufacturing services to leading brands (as Taiwan’s Foxconn did for Apple). Others, including big shipbuilding firms in South Korea and Singapore, learned to specialize. And still others broke out as global brand names, such as Acer in Taiwan and Samsung, LG, and Hyundai in South Korea. This is a fascinating and richly informative contribution to the field of business history and to the study of the political economy of advanced industrial development.

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