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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The overseas Chinese and the economic underdevelopment of Indonesia Chen, Christopher


This thesis will attempt to clarify the reasons why the Indonesian economy did not progress from an import-substitution orientation to a more advanced state of export-orientation during the oil boom periods of the Suharto era (mid 1970's to early 1980's). The paper will be a departure from Western research methods of analyzing political and economic secondary sources by using Chinese and Southeast Asian Chinese sources instead. I have drawn upon the theories of noted Western scholars and attempt to explain how their theories on the subject are incomplete and Western-biased. I will attempt to show how Chinese sources may lead to a conclusion that, contrary to popular belief, the Chinese family ethic may in fact be an inhibitor to economic development. I have chosen private big businesses in Indonesia exclusively as I believe them to be the best examples of active economic actors in that nation during that period. The paper will be divided up into an introductory section which will state the purpose of the paper, the methods of research and will also feature introductories to basic models of developing economies and Indonesian conglomerates. Chapter two will contain the prevalent theories on government protection and involvement in the Indonesian economy. This will draw upon the secondary Western source materials available on the subject and highlight examples of bureaucratic interference. Chapter three will feature the Chinese sources on the cultural aspects of the Indonesian Chinese economy, describing such notions of assimilation and cultural traits. This will show how Chinese private enterprise and business strategy may be influenced by the family ethic which many believe to be the strength of overseas Chinese entrepreneurialship. The Chinese sources I have used may in fact indicate otherwise.

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