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The scale-up state: Singapore’s industrial policy for the digital economy

Lee, Neil ORCID: 0000-0002-4138-7163, Ni, Metta and Boey, Augustin (2024) The scale-up state: Singapore’s industrial policy for the digital economy. Southeast Asia Working Paper Series (11). Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, LSE, London, UK.

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The Singaporean state has played a crucial role in the country’s economic development. This led to concerns that a state-steered economy would be unable to develop fast-changing, disruptive sectors that are reliant on individual entrepreneurship, such as digital technology. Yet Singapore has become a world leader in the scaling of digital technology firms. In this paper, we consider how this happened. We show that advances in ICT opened a window of locational opportunity in digital tech, which was spotted by Singaporean policymakers open to experimentation. A distinctive ‘Singapore model’ developed to take advantage of this opportunity, exploiting Singapore’s geographical position, open economy, and business environment but combining this with active state intervention. To address coordination problems in the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, Singaporean policymakers worked through a process we term ‘network coordination’ across the whole of government. While overall rates of entrepreneurship remain low, the country has been successful at scaling firms in the digital technology sector. These primarily focused on consumer applications and non-Singaporean markets, but there has been little development in frontier ‘deep tech’.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Authors
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2024 14:21
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 14:24

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