Asia Pacific Journal of Management

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 401–434 | Cite as

Southeast Asian capitalism: History, institutions, states, and firms

  • Frank B. TiptonEmail author


This paper examines the structures of capitalism in Southeast Asia. Following the lead of Gordon Redding and others, it argues that parallel to varieties of capitalism elsewhere, there are distinctive features to the Southeast Asian business system, but that institutions play a relatively large role compared to firm specific resources or industry structures. Historically, with the exception of Thailand all the countries in the region are former colonies. All including Thailand share a distinctive style of nationalism, and partly as a result of this, all are governed by states that claim to be strong and lay wide claims but whose capacities are low. Typical features of the region, particularly the roles of large business groups and the Chinese minority, also can be interpreted as a result of this history. One of the outcomes of the analysis is an extension of the varieties of capitalism approach along the dimensions of state capacity and state direction, and of the approach to the internationalizing firm along the dimensions of dynamic capacity and control of subsidiaries. A further outcome is a questioning of the traditional picture of indigenous Southeast Asian business people as lacking in entrepreneurial skills, or more broadly of Southeast Asian nations as lacking in entrepreneurial values. Rather, the past history of these countries has resulted in a set of structures that militate against successful entrepreneurial activity.


Southeast Asia Varieties of capitalism Partha Chatterjee Joel Migdal Martin Painter Gordon Redding New institutionalism Nationalism State capacity Entrepreneurship 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Business, Faculty of Economics and BusinessUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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