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The Politics of Uneven Development in Thailand: An Analytical Framework

The Politics of Uneven Development in Thailand: An Analytical Framework

Colloquium with Richard F. Doner, Emory University

Tuesday, March 03, 2009
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

This paper proposes a political explanation for the uneven nature of Thai economic development.   It argues that Thailand has succeeded well at diversifying its economy but not at upgrading (increasing value added with high efficiency and local linkages).  It emphasizes the particular difficulties of upgrading and Thailand’s lack of institutional capacities to address such difficulties.  These institutional weaknesses reflect two sets of conditions: the large number of veto players - political interests with the ability to block reform; and the lack of structural pressure on government leaders, especially from local business and labor, to undertake needed reforms.  The paper concludes with a pessimistic view of the country’s capacity for sustainable growth.

Richard F. Doner is Associate Professor of Political Science at Emory University where he has taught since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986.  His research and teaching focus on the political and institutional sources of economic growth, especially in Southeast Asia. His books include The Politics of Uneven Development: Thailand’s Economic Growth in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2009); Explaining Institutional Innovation: Case Studies from Latin America and East Asia (Social Science Research Council, forthcoming 2009); Economic Governance and The Challenge of Flexibility in East Asia, (edited with Fredrick Deyo and Eric Hershberg; Rowman and Littleifield  2001);  From Silicon Valley to Singapore: Location and Competitive Advantages in the Disk Drive Industry (with David McKendrick and Stephan Haggard; Stanford University Press, 2000); and Driving a Bargain: Automobile Industrialization and Japanese Firms in Southeast Asia (University of California Press, 1991).

Cost : Free and open to the public.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies