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East Asia's growth: technology or accumulation?

G. Chris Rodrigo ()

Contemporary Economic Policy, 2000, vol. 18, issue 2, 215-227

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.

Date: 2000
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