Archetype for an archipelago? Batam as anti-model and model of industrialization in reformasi Indonesia
Progress in Development Studies, 4, (3), . (doi:10.1191/1464993404ps086oa).
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Today's world economy has been likened to a mosaic of interconnected regions or islands of economic development. Be they successful 'industrial districts' or less successful, less sustainable and equitable enclaves of multinational enterprise-led development, such islands of industrialization are looked to as sites for the generation and diffusion of potentially transferable practices and knowledge. I examine current debate over the extent to which Batam is regarded a model and anti-model of industrialization both in reformasi Indonesia and beyond. Batam was developed under the auspices of a highly centralized and authoritarian Indonesian government – at a time when the state had the means, though not the appetite, to replicate or transplant elements elsewhere. As such, Batam represents a unique, unrepeatable experiment and one which central government has viewed more as an anti-model, given new demands on territorial management in reformasi Indonesia. Nevertheless, Batam's uniqueness and the growing exposure of its institutions to international business, trade and investment promotion and skill development practices, mean that there are inescapable top-down and bottom-up pressures for elements of Batam's industrialization to serve as models elsewhere in newly democratized and decentralizing reformasi Indonesia. In conclusion, the paper highlights the, as yet, weak and asymmetrical institutional developments on Batam that are currently thought of as potential models.
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