Prospects for a ‘New Approach’ to Understanding Contemporary Socio-economic Change in Mainland SEA: Servicisation in the Vietnamese Economic Miracle in Local Perspective

Associate Professor Adam Fforde1

1Associate Professor, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne; Adjunct Professor, Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Australia

Since 1992 Vietnam has undergone massive social and economic transformations with rapid growth that has been, not the industrialisation sought by donor advice and the ruling Communist Party’s slogan of ‘Modernisation and Industrialisation’, but servicisation. It turns out that servicisation not industrialisation has been the global average since the early 1990s, contrary to expectations. With extensive publications on Vietnam, the author has since 2016 started to publish in this area (of servicisation), and is writing a book-length study of the ‘Vietnamese Economic Miracle’. This involves reassessment of a wide range of now-contentious positions relating to development strategy and industrialisation, and exploration of a ‘New Approach’. Servicisation has possible wide implications for issues of governance, public and private expectations and decisions, aspects of the ‘gendered’ conceptions of development, et al. The paper will draw upon this work to comparatively examine change since the early 1990s in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar.


Adam Fforde is Associate Professor, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor, VISES, Victoria University. A widely cited scholar of contemporary Vietnam with about ¾ of his career as a development consultant. He holds an Engineering BA (Oxford) and Economics Masters and PhD (Birkbeck London & Cambridge).


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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