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The Connections World: the Future of Asian Capitalism

The Connections World: the Future of Asian Capitalism

A panel discussion including Simon Commander, Saul Estrin, and Vasuki Shastry
26 April 2023 14.00 BST

A central feature of modern Asia is the web of close relationships running between and within business and politics: the connections world. These networks facilitate highly transactional interactions yielding significant reciprocal benefits. Although the connections world has not yet seriously impeded Asia’s economic renaissance, it comes with significant costs and fallibilities. 

Saul Estrin and Simon Commander have argued in their book The Connections World: the future of Asian capitalism, that if Asia’s claim to the 21st century is not to be derailed, major changes must be made to policy and behaviour to promote more sustainable economic and political systems.

Vasuki Shastry, who spoke to the RSAA last year, sees similar problems. As he set out in his book Has Asia Lost It?, “the growth engine is carrying a train which is filled with self-satisfied elites,” while hundreds of millions of have-nots are “stranded on the platform unable to get in”.

Simon Commander is Managing Partner of Altura Partners providing policy advice to governments & companies. He is also Visiting Professor of Economics at IE Business School in Madrid. From 1998 to 2011 he worked at the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development in London and from 1988-1998 at the World Bank in Washington DC.

Saul Estrin was the founding Head of the Department of Management at LSE & formerly a Professor of Economics & Associate Dean at London Business School. He researches in international business and entrepreneurship, especially with reference to emerging economies. He is former President of the European Association for Comparative Economic Systems.  

Early in his career, Shastry was an economic and political journalist in India, Singapore, and Indonesia. After leaving journalism in 1998, he worked for the International Monetary Fund in senior communication roles including Asia Pacific spokesperson, head of internal communications, and global head of public affairs. More recently he was global head of public affairs and sustainability at Standard Chartered Bank and has been an Associate Fellow of the Asia-Pacific programme at Chatham House. His book, Has Asia Lost it? Dynamic Past, Turbulent Future was published in 2021.

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