Preface

 

The reaction of people living in SE Asia to the financial crisis of 1997 Ė 1998 was first one of shock and bewilderment.

Then, for many, it was panic. Each day, for months, stock market numbers and currency values become unbelievably worse. As crises go, the next response was naturally one of blame and criticism. SE Asian financial systems were said to lack transparency and the foundations of a modern financial system.

While there followed a host of conferences and papers giving economic explanations of SE Asiaís predicament, from a business perspective, the theories didnít fly. They neglected to explain how transnational companies were seemingly immune from the crisis.

They did not explain why it was that SE Asian businesses, with their relatively closed business systems, could cause a financial crisis of world proportions. And they didnít explain how globalisation played a role in SE Asiaís economic rise and fall.

My frustration with the lack of insightful explanation of SE Asiaís business growth and decline was fuelled by the lack of a dedicated textbook on SE Asian business from which to teach. While there was an absence of course material directly on SE Asian business dynamics, international business texts presented a paradigm of industrial era growth and business expansion that did not have much application and meaning to an Asian audience.

A meeting with a Chinese delegation at the Sheraton Hotel in Brunei in 1998 was, however, to set me on a course to explore the dynamics of SE Asian business.

As I listened to the delegates it became clear to me that they were speaking and responding out of a different process of reasoning than a Western capitalist model. I came away from the meeting with the belief that a sociological explanation of SE Asian history and growth was needed in order to make sense of the regionís business interactions: an explanation of SE Asian development that appreciated the context in which people live and conduct their business.

Only then could I seek to understand what the financial crisis had meant to the people of SE Asia. But an explanation of the context of SE Asian growth is not to be a story restricted to the influences of the past but also one about the unfolding events and influences of globalisation.

The next three years of travel and research across SE Asia brought me many significant interactions with people in the midst of their work and commerce, and at times in the midst of their uncertainty of change. These interactions shaped the form of this book.

The work of George Herbert Mead provided a foundation for an explanation of the processes of social change and the impact of critical events. But the writings of Peter Drucker and Alvin Toffler, two men who have influenced me since my time at Claremont Graduate University, were also significant.

Their writings inspired me to consider the impact of globalisation upon SE Asian societies as more than a consequence of technology and information transfer but as a radical shift in ideology. SE Asian businesses, like businesses everywhere, are seeing their ideologies evolve to embrace a new and global logic, or way of thinking. Consequently, the financial crisis is to be understood as one event, although severe, in the journey of globalisation for SE Asia. Indeed, the impact of globalisation is to have board and profound consequences affecting the very nature of business management practice.

The purpose of this book is to discuss the impact of globalisation for SE Asia by first considering the context in which change is taking place and then the consequences of an emerging new ideology for SE Asian business systems. The book has been written to offer a different perspective on SE Asian business dynamics and the influence of past events and present opportunities.

For business professionals this book offers an explanation of the dynamics of globalisation and how it is going to affect their business. While the discussion is pertinent to businesses operating in SE Asia, it also has relevance to businesses everywhere as the impact of globalisation has no bounds.

At the same time I would suggest that the study of international business and SE Asian business management requires a global approach because SE Asian business is currently experiencing radical shifts in business management practice brought on by external global forces.

Accordingly, this book provides a great resource for the theoretical background to business growth in SE Asia as well as presenting some provocative ideas about business management and the emergence of a global logic. 


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