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An Inquiry into the Rapid Growth of the Garment Industry in Bangladesh


  • Khondoker Abdul Mottaleb
  • Tetsushi Sonobe


The export-oriented garment industry in Bangladesh has grown rapidly for the last 3 decades and now ranks among the largest garment exporters in the world. While its early success is attributed to the initial technology transfer from South Korea, such a one-time infusion of knowledge alone is insufficient to explain the sustained growth for 3 decades. This article uses primary data collected from knitwear manufacturers and garment traders to explore the process of the continuous learning of advanced skills and know-how. It finds, among other things, that the high profitability of garment manufacturing due to the initial infusion of specific human capital attracted a number of highly educated entrepreneurs to the industry, that the division of labor between manufacturers and traders has facilitated the expansion of the industry, and that enterprise growth has lasted long because of the continuous learning from abroad by the highly educated entrepreneurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Khondoker Abdul Mottaleb & Tetsushi Sonobe, 2011. "An Inquiry into the Rapid Growth of the Garment Industry in Bangladesh," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 67-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/661218

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Marcel Fafchamps, 2004. "Market Institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa: Theory and Evidence," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062364, January.
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    5. Tetsushi Sonobe & John E. Akoten & Keijiro Otsuka, 2009. "An Exploration into the Successful Development of the Leather-Shoe Industry in Ethiopia," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(4), pages 719-736, November.
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    8. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
    9. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2005. "On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination versus Specialization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 675-702, August.
    10. Keijiro Otsuka, 2006. "Cluster-Based Industrial Development: A View From East Asia," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 57(3), pages 361-376.
    11. Tewari, Meenu, 1999. "Successful Adjustment in Indian Industry: the Case of Ludhiana's Woolen Knitwear Cluster," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1651-1671, September.
    12. Craig L Infanger, 1993. "The Agrarian Origins of Commerce and Industry, A Study of Peasant Marketing in Indonesia," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 35(2), pages 60-62, July.
    13. Vu Hoang Nam & Tetsushi Sonobe & Keijiro Otsuka, 2010. "An Inquiry into the Development Process of Village Industries: The Case of a Knitwear Cluster in Northern Vietnam," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 312-330.
    14. Gereffi, Gary, 1999. "International trade and industrial upgrading in the apparel commodity chain," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 37-70, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Keshab Raj Bhattarai, 2016. "Economic Growth and Development in India and SAARC Countries," EcoMod2016 9631, EcoMod.
    2. Seymour, Gregory & Floro, Maria S., 2016. "Identity, household work, and subjective well-being among rural women in Bangladesh," IFPRI discussion papers 1580, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Girum Abebe & Tetsushi Sonobe, 2012. "Management Practices, Self-Selection into Management Training Participation, and Training Effects in the Garment Industry in Ethiopia," GRIPS Discussion Papers 11-23, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    4. Keijiro Otsuka & Tetsushi Sonobe, 2011. "A Cluster-Based Industrial Development Policy for Low-Income Countries," GRIPS Discussion Papers 11-09, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    5. Babur Wasim Arif & Tetsushi Sonobe, 2012. "Virtual Incubation in Industrial Clusters: A Case Study in Pakistan," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(3), pages 377-392, March.
    6. repec:wsi:serxxx:v:59:y:2014:i:05:n:s021759081450043x is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Greg Seymour & Maria S. Floro, 2016. "Identity, Household Work, and Subjective Well-Being among Rural Women in Bangladesh," Working Papers id:11520, eSocialSciences.
    8. Otsuka, Keijiro & Sonobe, Tetsushi, 2012. "The Role of Training in Fostering Cluster-Based Micro and Small Enterprises Development," WIDER Working Paper Series 099, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Khondoker Abdul Mottaleb & Kaliappa P. Kalirajan, 2014. "Determinants Of Labor-Intensive Exports By The Developing Countries: A Cross Country Analysis," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 59(05), pages 1-22.
    10. Tetsushi Sonobe & Yuki Higuchi & Keijiro Otsuka, 2012. "Productivity Growth and Job Creation in the Development Process of Industrial Clusters," GRIPS Discussion Papers 11-22, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    11. Higuchi, Yuki & Nam, Vu Hoang & Sonobe, Tetsushi, 2015. "Sustained impacts of Kaizen training," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 189-206.
    12. Girum Abebe & Florian Schaefer, 2014. "High Hopes and Limited Successes: Experimenting with Industrial Polices in the Leather Industry in Ethiopia," Working Papers 011, Ethiopian Development Research Institute.
    13. Dan PIRLOGEANU & Mihaela PANAIT (TANASE), 2017. "The Impact Of Foreign Direct Investments On The Small And Medium Sized Enterprises In Romania," Revista Economica, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Faculty of Economic Sciences, vol. 69(1), pages 119-128, April.
    14. repec:eee:wodepe:v:4:y:2016:i:c:p:48-59 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Tomoko Hashino & Keijiro Otsuka, 2015. "The Rise and Fall of Industrialization and Changing Labor Intensity: The Case of Export-Oriented Silk Weaving District in Modern Japan," Discussion Papers 1501, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
    16. Hosono, Akio, 2013. "Industrial Strategy And Economic Transformation:," Working Papers 1002, JICA Research Institute.
    17. Tetsushi Sonobe & Keijiro Otsuka, 2012. "The Role of Training in Fostering Cluster-Based MSE Development," GRIPS Discussion Papers 12-14, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    18. Tomoko Hashino & Keijiro Otsuka, 2013. "Expansion and Transformation of the Export-Oriented Silk Weaving District: The Case of Fukui in Japan from 1890 to 1919," Discussion Papers 1303, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.

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