Archive for October 14th, 2010

Malaysia in the Era of Globalization #36

By M. Bakri Musa

Chapter 5: Understanding Globalization (Cont’d)

Missing the Japanese Lesson

In truth many misread the Japanese success story. As Harvard’s Michael Porter observes in his book, The Competitive Advantage of Nations, the successful Japanese companies that now dominate global markets – the Sonys, Olympus, and Toyotas – had survived rigorous competition at home. They competed aggressively among themselves and only the most vigorous, those who have mastered the art of satisfying their customers and reducing the costs, go on to conquer the world. Meanwhile their “protected” industries – their banks and other financial institutions – are wallowing in misery, unable to compete beyond their shores.

As a result of its commitment to foreign trade, Malaysia enjoyed a boom in direct foreign investments in the 1980s and 90s. These later investors were chiefly in manufacturing, especially semiconductors. They were welcomed because, quite apart from the employment opportunities provided and foreign exchange earned, they spread the “Made in Malaysia” brand names worldwide. Malaysians also discovered that being a factory worker, even a foreign-owned one, was much more agreeable to working the land under the blistering sun. Indeed those foreign employers, yes even those companies owned by our former colonizers, were much more enlightened and generous with their benefits than native ones!
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