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East Asia's growth: technology or accumulation?

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  • GC. Rodrigo

Abstract

Krugman, building on the work of Alwyn Young, has argued that hypergrowth in East Asia derives mostly from factor accumulation, owing little to technological change. Yet this explanation is at odds with what analysts of technological change have to say about technology acquisition in these countries. This article examines the Young-Krugman thesis and argues that the problem lies in the misconception of technological change as distinct from accumulation. The critique is taken further by means of a review of the multifaceted way that technology raises the productivity of labor. It is argued that technology is carried not as disembodied knowledge, but as techniques hard-coded in physical devices and structures, by patterns soft-coded in human and organizational capabilities and business-friendly institutions, formal and informal. These operate as symbiotic complements, not separable substitutes as assumed in conventional theory. These arguments are supplemented by perspectives introduced from the technology literature. Since the respective roles and relationship between accumulation and technology are scrutinized, the analysis provides important policy conclusions on the value of East Asian growth strategies. Copyright 2000 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • GC. Rodrigo, 2000. "East Asia's growth: technology or accumulation?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(2), pages 215-227, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:18:y:2000:i:2:p:215-227
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jonathan Temple & Paul A. Johnson, 1998. "Social Capability and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 965-990.
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    5. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1991. "Equipment Investment and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 445-502.
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    9. Susan M. Collins & Barry P. Bosworth, 1996. "Economic Growth in East Asia: Accumulation versus Assimilation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 135-204.
    10. Nelson, Richard R, 1981. "Research on Productivity Growth and Productivity Differences: Dead Ends and New Departures," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 1029-1064, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Weber, Enzo, 2011. "Foreign and domestic growth drivers in Eastern Europe," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 512-522.
    2. Weber, Enzo, 2009. "Common and uncommon sources of growth in Asia Pacific," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 20-36, March.
    3. Chia-Hung Sun, 2005. "Productivity growth in East Asian manufacturing: a fading miracle or measurement problem?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 1-19.
    4. Lall, Somik V. & Rodrigo, G. Chris, 2001. "Perspectives on the Sources of Heterogeneity in Indian Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(12), pages 2127-2143, December.

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