Regional Development and the Competitive Dynamics of Global Production Networks: An East Asian Perspective

Professor Henry Yeung from the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore will give a guest lecture at the Department of Geography & Geology. 

The debate on the nature and dynamics of regional development in both academic and policy circles has now moved on from the earlier focus on endogenous regional assets to analyzing the complex relationship between globalization and regional change. This lecture attempts to engage with this debate through the experience of regional development in East Asia. I show that regional development cannot be understood independently of the changing dynamics of global production networks. While the existing literature on East Asia tends to focus on the state as the key driver of economic development at the national and regional levels, I argue that the developmental state is a necessary but not sufficient condition for regional development to take place. Instead, we need to study the complex strategic coupling of those economic actors, particularly large business firms, operating in specific regions in Asia with their lead firm counterparts orchestrating production networks on a global basis. I illustrate these strategic coupling processes and their impact on divergent regional development trajectories on the basis of my own primary data and other secondary sources. The paper concludes with some major implications for theorizing regional development and strategic regional policy options.

About the speaker:
Henry Wai-chung Yeung, Ph.D., is Professor of Economic Geography at the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore. He was a recipient of many research awards, including Outstanding Researcher Award from NUS, the Commonwealth Fellowship, the Fulbright Foreign Research Award, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Team Residency in Bellagio. His research interests cover broadly theories and the geography of transnational corporations, Asian firms and their overseas operations and Chinese business networks in the Asia-Pacific region. Professor Yeung is the author of Transnational Corporations and Business Networks (Routledge, 1998), Entrepreneurship and the Internationalisation of Asian Firms (Edward Elgar, 2002) and Chinese Capitalism in a Global Era (Routledge, 2004), and co-author of Economic Geography (Blackwell, 2007). He is also editor and co-editor of five other books and has over 80 research papers in international journals and 38 chapters in books. He is Editor of Environment and Planning A, Economic Geography, and Review of International Political Economy, Asia-Pacific Editor of Global Networks, and Contributing Editor of International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. He sits on the editorial boards of 12 other international journals.