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Reviewed by:
  • The Local Impact of Globalization in South and Southeast Asia ed. by Bart Lambregts, Niels Beerepoot, and Robert C. Kloosterman
  • P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan
The Local Impact of Globalization in South and Southeast Asia. Edited by Bart Lambregts, Niels Beerepoot and Robert C. Kloosterman. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. Pp. 219.

The book under review touches an unexplored area: the impact of multinational service industries on local systems — society, culture, innovation, labour, class, industrial systems, etc. Researchers and policymakers, especially those in the developmental space, will benefit greatly from the book. The book uses simple qualitative research methods and descriptive statistical analysis, which makes it accessible to everyone.

The hardbound book is divided into four broad parts under which three or four chapters are clubbed. These are: the broader framework of globalization of the services sector and how it manifests in India and Philippines; how it is different in smaller contexts like Hong Kong and Bangkok; the changes in labour and industrial organizations; and the rise of the new middle class due to the emerging service economy. Besides covering India (Mumbai) and the Philippines (Manila), the book also covers: China and its cities in the Pearl River Delta; Hong Kong; and Bangkok.

The book clearly delineates what it wants to achieve in the first chapter, to analyse: the local impact of services offshoring in South and Southeast Asia in terms of opportunities; how the relationships between multinational industrial systems and local players are played out in [End Page 227] various domains; and implications for theories of development. This is followed with Part I, consisting of Chapters 2 to 5, which contains some hits and misses. Chapter 2 provides the necessary historical details of service-sector-driven economic development while teasing out the theories of economic development. It can be a good introduction to junior scholars for an understanding of the role of the service sector in economic development. While the third chapter compares the business process offshoring (BPO) industries in India and Philippines and factors for development, Chapter 4 zooms into the BPO sector in the Philippines. Apart from raising some concerns about negative implications, the latter chapter’s analysis is not deep enough and could have been better if merged with the earlier chapter. Although Chapter 3 does not have a strong theoretical framework driving it, it at least clearly differentiates software services from business processing in its analyses, unlike many studies in this area. Chapter 5 approaches its topic on global value chains and national innovation systems from a more wholesome perspective, laying the theoretical foundation nicely and making good efforts in collecting data. While the theories discussed pave an easy entry into the discussion on ecosystems in the Philippines, the data and its findings could have been described in greater detail. This chapter has the potential to be published as a research article in a good journal.

Part II follows with three chapters. The sixth chapter, possibly one of the most well written ones in the book, describes the Pearl River Delta region (Guangdong province) in China and cautions that the single developmental approach might not fit all cities. The details presented here are not easily available, and it contains a table of typologies of business services economies that can serve as a framework for future studies. The seventh chapter introduces us to “re-exportation” in Hong Kong and explains it using secondary data. Although this chapter expounds on an interesting concept, it could have borrowed the framework from the earlier chapter for greater analytical strength. The eighth chapter casts a spotlight on the peculiar case of Japanese call centres in Bangkok. Despite the limited extent of this phenomenon, this chapter presents an interesting finding for the research community. It is based on qualitative interviews of a small sample, which is acceptable for an exploratory study.

Part III opens with Chapter 9, which cautions readers of the marginalization of Asian workers in global production chains, basing its analysis on the Marxist school of thought. The chapter could have been improved by showcasing adequate data from the service industry. The subsequent two chapters describe the challenges and opportunities of the BPO industry through microcosmic case studies...


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pp. 227-229
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