Asia Research Community

Southeast Asia

The Southeast Asia research unit carries out research within international economics and international business, with perspectives from sociology, anthropology, and political science. The research currently focus on countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, with a cross-national, regional or global perspective.

Southeast Asia research unit CBS

The Southeast Asian research unit currently focuses on three main areas. The first one focuses on regional organisation and nation building in the region. Key issues in this connection are the relationship between ASEAN and national political priorities framed in nationalism, on disaggregation between nation and state, and on notions of ethnic belonging and political ideology. The second main area of research is on processes of regionalism and regionalisation in Southeast Asia. Key issues here are risk and opportunities for nation states in this context, ASEAN as a coherent economic community, and Southeast Asian political and economic relations to South- and East- and Northeast Asia. The third research field is on Southeast Asia and processes of economic globalisation. Key issues here are whether economic globalisation constitutes a threat towards regional and national identity, open market versus developmental regionalism, economic decoupling and nationalism, and economic zones and economic development in ASEAN. On the basis of these fields of study, the Southeast Asia research unit welcomes researchers to engage in collaboration in the form of individual projects, international workshops or conferences. Our aim is to build a strong research environment in collaboration with individual researchers and/or universities and research institutions from Denmark, Southeast Asia and beyond.

Michael Jakobsen (


‘On Economic Zone Life Cycles. Forward and Backwards Linkage Processes between Economic  Zones and Local Economies in Malaysia’

The focus of this project is a study of the variety of economic zones currently found in Malaysia. It focuses in particular on the life cycles of various types of economic zones as well as on whether they have or have not integrated into the local, regional and national economy. One of the ways in which to study this is to focus on forward and backward linkage processes, as this provides a potential avenue for assessing the various mechanisms that link international and local companies to each other. As a case study in this connection the free economic zone Bayan Lepas in the state of Penang has been chosen. During this research the project has furthermore singled out as a special study how modes of cross-cultural business communication takes place between international companies working in economic zones as well as with local suppliers and sub-contractors. As a case study in this connection the project focuses on the Danish shipping company Maersk Line and its relationship with local suppliers and subcontractors in the Port Klang Free Zone in the state of Selangor as well as with similar companies in the Tanjung Pelepas Port in Johor Bahru district in the southern state of Johor. Currently the project focuses in particular on Maersk’s office in Kuala Lumpur, and how the staff that are mainly Malaysians, manage to partly internalise the company’s global corporal culture, and partly how the staff on the basis of this deals with the suppliers and subcontractors in the Port Klang Free Zone. This case study is expected to provide the researchers with insights into how global and local companies relate to each other in terms of cross-cultural business communication.

Contact persons: Michael Jakobsen and Verner Worm

Cross-Cultural Business Studies Project:On the Notion of Culture in International Organisations. Navigating a Global Corporate Culture: The Case of Maersk Line

When analysing modes of navigating cross-cultural business communities, most IB studies employ an etic approach that delineates how ethnically owned companies thrive and manoeuvre in complex cross-cultural business contexts. This approach implies employing theoretical models and empirical observations that from a methodological point of view identify a local entrepreneur as either an objectified agent or as an anonymous ‘other’, thus indicating that such approaches have their roots in an ethnocentric academic tradition. Acknowledging the merits of this tradition, this project takes a step further and introduces an emic or contextualised approach that makes local entrepreneurs themselves provide the main bulk of data on why and how they position themselves in a cross-cultural business context the way they do. The main objective of this project is thus to show how local entrepreneurs develop business strategies so as to navigate and grow their companies in a complex cross-cultural business context. The discussion on local entrepreneurship is currently initiated by outlining a theoretical model for how to approach emic studies and is then expected to proceed towards suggesting a methodological approach that is capable of providing the empirical data that supports the development of a model that is based on a combination of etic and emic approaches. Basically, this project constitutes a first step towards developing a generic model of how to deal with context. 

Contact persons: Michael Jakobsen and Verner Worm

Innovating Vietnam's TVET system for sustainable growth (VIETSKILL)

The Vietnamese economy has not only grown at an impressive rate since the introduction of economic reforms in 1986, but it has also gone through a formidable transformation process. Market oriented reforms and an increasing outward orientation have contributed to changing Vietnam from an inward-looking and stagnant socialist economy to a vibrant export hub and a major location for foreign direct investment. Poverty rates have fallen rapidly, living standards have increased, and new industries have emerged. Yet, despite these advances, Vietnam remains a developing country with large regional differences, striking contrasts between urban and rural areas, rising income gaps, and a weakly functioning public sector. The quality of social services, health care, and education has not increased at the same rate as exports and GDP, and the management of public resources is inefficient. Vietnam is still a one-party state with the Communist Party firmly in power, with a large number of state-owned enterprises dominating the economy thanks to protection and privileged access to resources. The transition from a socialist planned economy to a market economy is far from completed.
ARC’s Vietnam program explores various aspects of the continuing economic and social reforms and reform challenges in Vietnam. Past contributions have focused on international trade, industrialization, the role of the state, and macroeconomic management. The current research agenda focuses on the character and role of inward foreign direct investment, the performance of joint ventures between Vietnamese firms and foreign multinational corporations, and various issues related to Vietnam’s many export processing zones and other special economic zones.

Innovating Vietnam’s TVET system for sustainable growth (VIETSKILL)

The purpose of this project is to forecast the skill demand in the FDI-sector (including its supplychain) and to design innovative partnership models for technical and vocational education andtraining (TVET) in Vietnam. The forecasting will be based on information on GVC upgradingtrajectories and skill demand at different stages of the value chain: in principle, the objective isto predict what types of skills the foreign MNEs would require in the medium-term future ifVietnamese labor costs were twice as high as today.

Contact person Ari Kokko
Special Economic Zones: A force for good to reduce Inequality?

The aim of this project is to bring together a group of researchers from Africa, Asia and Europe to evaluate the implications of special economic zones (SEZs) for development and social inequality in three emerging economies, Ghana, India, and Vietnam. These three countries provide cases with different levels of integration into global production networks on two different continents.

Contact persons Ari Kokko and Aradhna Aggarwal



The PDF icon annual ARC Research Workshop in December 2022 focused on Vietnam as well as a session on work-in-progress

Workshop on Value Chain Upgrading and TVET Reform in Vietnam to be held on September 22 as a part of the VIETSKILL program

The 7th Copenhagen Conference on Emerging Market Multinationals: Outward Investment from Emerging Economies, 14-15 October 2021

Ph.d. fellow Jun Yuan Seng want been signed on at Department of Economics, Government and Business since 1. of February. 

Ph.d. Candidate Jinsun Bae from ARC will defend her thesis on 21 September, it's titled: "Producing Garments for Global Markets: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Myanmar’s export garment industry 2011-2015" Available on open archive

ARC researchers in the South East Asia Research Unit

Peter Gammeltoft

Michael Jakobsen

Ari Kokko

Verner Worm

Julian Seng

Lotte Thomsen


Publications on South East Asia


Aggarwal, A. (2022). Special Economic Zones for Shared Prosperity: Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area. Manila: Asian Development Bank 2022, 166 p

Jakobsen, M. & Worm, V. D. (2022). Navigating Corporate Cultures from Within: Making Sense of Corporate Values Seen from an Employee Perspective. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing 2022, 161 p. (Emerald Studies in Global Strategic Responsiveness)

Worm, Verner ; Jakobsen, Michael 2018. 'Revisiting Single Case Studies in International Business Research : The Case of Maersk Line' in:Copenhagen Discussion Papers, vol. 66, Frederiksberg : Asia Research Centre, CBS.

Gammeltoft, Peter; Bersant Hobdari 2017. ‘Emerging Market Multinationals : International Knowledge Flows and Innovation’. In: International Journal of Technology Management, Vol. 74, No. 1-4, 2017, p. 1-22

Gammeltoft, Peter Bersant Hobdari;  Jing Li; Klaus E. Meyer 2017. ’The Home Country of the MNE : The Case of Emerging Economy Firms. In: Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2017, p. 1-17

Jakobsen, Michael 2015. Ethnic Chinese Entrepreneurship in Malaysia. On Contextualisation in International Business Studies’. London and New York: Routledge (Chinese Worlds Series).

Thomsen, L. (2015) Synergies Between Danish Development Cooperation and Commercial Activities in Vietnam : Experience from Green Growth and Fisheries

Kokko, Ari and Tran Toan Thang 2014. ‘Foreign Direct Investment and the Survival of Domestic Private Firms in Vietnam’. Asian Development Review 31 (1): 53-91.

Gammeltoft, Peter and Lepi T. Tarmidi (2013), ’Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in Indonesia: Trends, Drivers and Impacts’, International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 6(1-2): 136-160.

Kokko, Ari 2012. ‘EU and Vietnam: From a Parental to a Competitive Relationship’. In L. Oxelheim (Ed.) EU-Asia and the Re-Polarization of the Global Economic Arena. Singapore: World Scientific 2012: 567-503..

Jakobsen, Michael and Kjeld Erik Broedsgaard, 2011. Political and Economic Decoupling and Risk Assessment in Contemporary Asia. Special issue of the Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies. Vol. 29, Issue 2.

Verner Worm, Xin Li, Michael Jakobsen, Peihong Xie 2015. Culture Studies in the Field of International Business Research: A Tale of two Paradigms’, Copenhagen Discussion Paper Series. No. 53, November.

Jakobsen, Michael 2015. Exploring Key External and Internal Factors Affecting State Performance in Southeast Asia. Copenhagen Discussion Paper Series. No. 48, May.

Thomsen, L (2011) Business-state relations in the Differentiated Private Sector in Vietnam : Access to Capital and Land. Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 39, No. 5, p. 627-651

Aggarwal Aradhna 2010 Achieving Sustainable Trade and Investment: The role of FDI policies in China, Vietnam and India; Background paper for Trade and Investment report, UNESCAP, Bangkok.

Jakobsen, Michael 2010. Interdependency Versus Notions of Decoupling in a Globalising World: Assessing the Impact of Global Economics and Industrial Developments and Inter-Ethnic relations in Penang, Malaysia. Copenhagen Discussion Papers series. No. 35, November.

Jakobsen, Michael 2010. Triangulating Global Economics, Inter-Ethnic Relations and Industrial Development in Penang, Malaysia. Paper presented at the 7th International Malaysian Studies Conference, Penang.

Kokko, Ari 2010. ‘20 Years of Economic Reform in Vietnam’. In R. Frank and S. Burghart (Eds.) Driving Forces of Socialist Transformation: North Korea and the Experience of Europe and East Asia. Vienna: Praesens 2010: 247-278

Li, Xin, Brødsgaard, Kjeld Erik, and Jakobsen, Michael 2010. Redefining Beijing Consensus: Ten General Principles. China Economic Journal, 2(3): 297-311.

Rasiah, Rajah, Peter Gammeltoft and Yang Jiang (2010), ‘Home government policies for outward FDI from emerging economies: lessons from Asia’, International Journal of Emerging Markets, 5(3/4): 333-357.

Jakobsen, Michael 2009. Navigating between Disaggregating Nation States and Entrenching Processes of Globalisation: Reconceptualising the Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia. Journal of Contemporary China. Vol. 18, No. 58. January.

Jakobsen, Michael 2009. Frozen Identities. Inter-Ethnic Relations and Economic Development in Penang, Malaysia. Copenhagen Discussion Papers Series No. 30, August.

Thomsen, L. (2009) Internal Business Organization in the Private Garment Industry in Vietnam : The Roles of Ethnicity, Origin and Location. Competition & Change Vol. 13, No. 1, p. 29–50

Forsberg, Le Thanh and Ari Kokko 2008. ‘The Role of Donors in Vietnamese Development Planning’, In A. Kokko (Ed.), Vietnam: 20 Years of Doi Moi. Hanoi: Thê Gioi Publishers and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences 2008: 242-285.

Forsberg, Le Thanh and Ari Kokko 2008. ‘From Growth to Poverty Reduction: The Framework for Development Cooperation in Vietnam’, Country Economic Report 2008:2. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Hakkala, Katariina and Ari Kokko 2008. ’The State and the Private Sector’. In A. Kokko (Ed.), Vietnam: 20 Years of Doi Moi. Hanoi: Thê Gioi Publishers and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences 2008: 81-116.

Jakobsen, Michael 2008. ‘Ethnic Chinese Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia: Measuring the Economic Impact of Mainland China’, in Verner Worm (ed.) China – Business Opportunities in a Globalising Economy. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press, pp. 155-70.

Kokko, Ari 2008. ‘Introduction and Overview’. In A. Kokko (Ed.), Vietnam: 20 Years of Doi Moi. Hanoi: Thê Gioi Publishers and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences 2008: 1-44.

Kokko, Ari, Kerstin Mitlid, and Arvid Wallgren 2008. ‘Internationalization and Macroeconomic Management in Vietnam’. In A. Kokko (Ed.), Vietnam: 20 Years of Doi Moi. Hanoi: Thê Gioi Publishers and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences 2008: 127-176.

Kokko, Ari and Patrik Tingvall 2008. ‘The Welfare State’. In A. Kokko (Ed.), Vietnam: 20 Years of Doi Moi. Hanoi: Thê Gioi Publishers and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences 2008: 177-241.

Kokko, Ari (Ed.) 2008. Vietnam: 20 Years of Doi Moi. Hanoi: Thê Gioi Publishers and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences.

Jakobsen, Michael and Ng Beoy Kui 2007. Changing Ethnic Chinese Business Practices in Southeast Asia. Special issue of the Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies. No. 25.

Jakobsen, Michael 2007. Re-Conceptualising Notions of Chinese-ness in a Southeast Asian Context. From Diasporic Networking to Grounded Cosmopolitanism. East Asia: An International Quarterly. Vol. 24, No. 2. June, pp. 213-227.

Jakobsen, Michael 2007. Living in the Shadow of Mainland China: On Delineating Social and Political Constrains Among Southeast Asian Chinese Entrepreneurs. Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies. No. 25, pp. 28-49.

Jakobsen, Michael 2007. The Political Economy of Cultural Stereotyping. From Hofstede Towards a Hermeneutic Understanding of Contemporary Identity Making in East and Southeast Asia’. Paper presented at the China in the World, the World in China International

Conference: ‘Implications of a Transforming China: Domestic, Regional and Global Impacts’. Organised by Institute of China Studies. University of Malaya in Malaysia. 5-6 August.

Kokko, Ari 2007. ‘EU som global aktör – effekter på Vietnam’. In P. Cramér, S. Gustavsson, and L.Oxelheim (Eds.) EU som aktör i världen. Stockholm: Santérus Förlag 2007: 133-167.

Thomsen, L. (2007) Accessing global value chains? The role of business–state relations in the private clothing industry in Vietnam. Journal of Economic Geography, Vol. 7, No. 6, November 2007, 753-776

Gammeltoft, Peter and Erman Aminullah (2006), ‘The Indonesian Innovation System at a Crossroads’, in Bengt-Åke Lundvall, Patarapong Intarakumnerd, and Jan Vang-Lauridsen, Asia’s Innovation Systems in Transition, Edward Elgar.

Jakobsen, Michael 2006. Positioning Strategies of Southeast Asian Chinese Entrepreneurs’. Co-authored with Vivienne Wee and Tiong Chong Wong. Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 36, No. 3.

Jakobsen, Michael 2006. Doing Business the Chinese Way? On Manadonese Chinese Entrepreneurship in North Sulawesi. The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies. No. 24, pp. 72-104.

Kokko, Ari and Mats Lundahl 2006. ‘Are There Recipes for Economic Development?’. In R. Tansini (Ed.) Cuba and Vietnam: Economic Reforms and Development. Montevideo: Sida and Universidad de la República 2006: 19-41.

Jakobsen, Michael and Jan Kanne Petersen 2005. The Tsunami and its Social and Political Implications. NIASnytt: Asia Insights. Special Issue. Published by the NIAS-Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. No. 2, June.

Jakobsen, Michael 2005. Islam and Processes of Minorisation among Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: Oscillating between Faith and Political Economic Expediency. Asian Ethnicity, Vol. 6, No. 2. June pp. 71-87.

Kokko, Ari and Patrik Tingvall 2005. ‘Regional Development and Government Support to SMEs in Vietnam’. Country Economic Report 2005:5. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Kokko, Ari and Fredrik Sjöholm 2005. ‘The Globalization of Vietnamese SMEs’. Asian Economic Papers 4 (1): 152-177.

Gammeltoft, Peter (2004), ‘Development of Firm-Level Technological Capabilities: The Case of the Indonesian Electronics Industry’, Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Vol. 9, No. 1: 49-69.

Jakobsen, Michael 2004.: De-essentialising “Chinese Capitalism” in Southeast Asia. NIASnytt: Asia Insights. Special Issue. Published by the NIAS-Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. No. 3. September.

Jakobsen, Michael 2004. Tightening the Unitary State. The Inner Workings of Indonesian Regional Autonomy’, Indonesian Quarterly. Vol. 32. No. 4. December, pp. 384-404.

Jakobsen, Michael 2004. On Factionalism and Secessionism in North Sulawesi Province, Indonesia. Asian Journal of Political Science. Vol. 12. No. 1. June, pp. 65-94.

Kokko, Ari 2004. ‘Growth and Reform since the 8th Party Congress’. In D. McCargo (Ed.) Rethinking Vietnam. London and New York: Routledge 2004: 69-90.

Wee, Vivienne, Michael Jakobsen, and Tiong Chong 2004 Oscillating Between Economic Opportunities and Contextual Constrains: Assessing the Positioning of Southeast Asian ethnic “Chinese” Entrepreneurs in Relation to China’. Paper presented at the international conference on ‘China and Southeast Asia. Challenges, Opportunities and the Re-Construction of Southeast Asian Chinese Capital’ at the Research School of Southeast Asian Studies, Xiamen University, China.

Gammeltoft, Peter (2003), ‘Embedded Flexible Collaboration and Development of Local Capabilities: A Case Study of the Indonesian Electronics Industry’, International Journal of Technology Management, Vol. 26, No. 7: 743-66.

Jakobsen, Michael 2003. Reconceptualising the Ethnic Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia. Exploring the Outer Limits of Ethnic Affiliations. Working paper Series No. 41. April, pp. 1-26. Southeast Asia Research Centre. City University of Hong Kong.

Kokko, Ari, Katarina Kotoglou, and Anna Krohwinkel-Karlsson 2003. ’Characteristics of Failed FDI Projects in Viet Nam’. Transnational Corporations 12 (3): 41-77.

Jakobsen, Michael, Timo Kivimäki, and Pius Suratman Kartasasmita 2002. Democracy, Decentralisation, Identity and Conflict in Indonesia’. Helsingki: Published by CTS-Conflict Transformation Service.

Jakobsen, Michael 2002. On the Question of Contemporary Identity in Minahasa, North Sulawesi Province, Indonesia’, in Asian Anthropology. Vol. 1, pp. 31-58.

Jakobsen, Michael 2002. Appropriating the Global within the Local. On Identity Formation among the Minahasa in North Sulawesi, Indonesia’, in Catarina Kinnvall and Kristina Jőnsson (eds): Globalisation and Democratic Development in Asian. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 230-46.

Jakobsen, Michael 2002. Nation-making and the Politicisation of Ethnicity in Post-Suharto Indonesia. Working paper Series No. 26. January, pp. 1-19. Southeast Asia Research Centre. City University of Hong Kong.

Jakobsen, Michael 2002. Cross-Border Communities and Deterritorialising Identities. Assessing the Diaspora Triangle: Migration-Host-Home. Working paper Series No. 19. January, pp. 1-17. Southeast Asia Research Centre. City University of Hong Kong.

Gammeltoft, Peter (2001), The Indonesian Electronics Industry: dual or segmented?’, The Indonesian Quarterly, 29 (3).

Gammeltoft, Peter (2001): Embedded Flexible Collaboration and Development of Technological Capability: a case study of the Indonesian electronics industry, Ph.D. dissertation. International Development Studies, Roskilde University.

Hakkala, Katariina, Olivia Kang, and Ari Kokko 2001. ’Step by Step: Economic Reform and Renovation in Vietnam before the 9th Party Congress’. Country Economic Report 2001:6. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Kokko, Ari 2001. ‘Trade and Industrial Policy Reform: The Challenge of Continuous Change’. In C. Brundenius and J. Weeks (Eds.) Globalisation and Third World Socialism: Cuba and Vietnam. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave 2001: 197-216.

Kokko, Ari 2001. ’Structure, Performance and Reform Requirements in the Vietnamese Private Sector’. Studies in Private Sector Development 2000:1. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Kokko, Ari and Fredrik Sjöholm 2000. ‘Some Alternative Scenarios for the Role of the State in Vietnam’. The Pacific Review, 13 (2): 257-277.

Jakobsen, Michael and Stephanie Lawson 1999. Between Globalisation and Localisation: A Case Study of Human Rights versus State Sovereignty. Global Governance, Vol. 5, pp. 203-219.

Kokko, Ari 1999. ’Vietnam: Ready for Doi Moi II’. In H.W. Arndt and H. Hill (Eds.) Southeast Asia’s Economic Crisis: Origins, Lessons, and the Way Forward. Singapore: ISEAS 1999: 81-92.

Jakobsen, Michael 1998. Regional Identity Formation in a Changing International Society. A Case Study of the Minahasa, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Report to the Danish Social Science Research Council, pp. 1-75.

Kokko, Ari 1998. ’Vietnam and the Asian Crisis: Causes, Consequences and Cures’. Country Economic Report 1998:8. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Kokko, Ari 1998. ‘Vietnam – Ready for Doi Moi II’. ASEAN Economic Bulletin, 15 (3): 319-327.

Kokko, Ari 1997. ‘Small, Medium, or Large: Some Scenarios for the Role of the State in the Era of Modernization and Industrialization in Vietnam’. Macroeconomic Reports 1997:6. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Kokko, Ari 1997. ‘Managing the Transition to Free Trade: Vietnamese Trade Policy for the 21st Century’. Macroeconomic Reports 1997:4. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Kokko, Ari 1997. Quàn lý trình chuyên sang chê dô thu’o’ng mau tu’ do: Chính sách thu’o’ng mai cùa Viêt Nam cho thê k`y XXI. Hanoi. Political Publishing House.

Kokko, Ari and Mario Zejan 1996. ’Planned and Failed Foreign Direct Investment in Viet Nam’. Asia-Pacific Development Journal, 3: 37-54.

Kokko, Ari and Mario Zejan 1996. ‘Vietnam 1996: Approaching the Next Stage of Reforms’. Macroeconomic Reports 1996:9. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Kokko, Ari and Mario Zejan 1996. Viet Nam: Chung duòng tiep theo cùa cài cách. Hanoi: Political Publishing House.

The page was last edited by: Asia Research Community // 01/04/2024