Industrialization with a Weak State: Thailand's Development in Historical Perspective

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By Somboon Siriprachai
Edited by Kaoru Sugihara, Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker

This collection of essays by Somboon Siriprachai offers a critical assessment of Thai industrialization, with a focus on industrial policy, rent seeking and income inequality. An economist by training, Somboon saw the Thai state as authoritarian rather than developmental, and criticized the adoption of policies that were oriented toward increasing government revenue instead of nurturing industrial development. While these policies achieved growth, they did not strengthen Thailand's technological capability and industrial skills, or promote research and development.

Somboon disputed the World Bank's classification of Thailand as a Newly Industrializing Economy (NIE), supporting his position with empirical evidence and comparisons with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The success of these East Asian countries, he suggested, rested on the competence of the state to direct the accumulation process rather than reliance on any particular strategy for industrialization. Arguing that increased industrial productivity is the key to a country's living standard and its ability to compete in the world market, he contended that government intervention was essential to successful late-comer industrialization.

Combining institutional economics with astute historical analysis, Somboon's work provides a unique perspective on the transition of the Thai economy from around the mid nineteenth century until 2000. His essays are a valuable contribution not only to Thai studies but also to the study of economic development of late-comer countries and the role of the state in that process.

"...a valuable contribution to our understanding of development in Thailand and Southeast Asia more generally, to the evolution of development theory, and finally, to the thinking of an engaged, concerned, and astute Thai economist. The essays will interest not just scholars of Thai and Southeast Asian development, but also anyone concerned with the evolution of economy theory." - Richard Doner

"...this collection has a great deal to commend it. Somboon's insights, especially into the differences between Thailand and other late industrialising countries, are interesting and challenging." - Porphant Ouyyanont

Somboon SIRIPRACHAI (1956-2008) was an Associate Professor of Economics at Thammasat University, Thailand.

Pasuk Phongpaichit is professor in the Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.

Kaoru Sugihara is Professor of Economic History at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, and is currently President of the Japan Society of Socio-economic History.

Kyoto CSEAS Series on Asian Studies 6
Publication Year: 2012
196 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-651-1, Paperback

NUS Press