SEZs and Economic Transformation: Towards a Developmental Approach

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This study presents a three-pillared analytical framework for the success factors and development outcomes of special economic zones (SEZs). The core argument is that countries that adopt a well-structured approach towards SEZs that they can align with the broader development strategy, executive effectively, and continuously evaluate and manoeuvre over time, are more successful in achieving SEZ-led economic transformation than others. This requires strategic bureaucratic competencies to make the right choices and set clear strategic directions; strategic bureaucratic learning to dynamically and interactively engage in adjusting the strategies when needed; and strategic bureaucratic strengths to implement the strategy effectively. These elements in turn need an effective political leadership with a strong development focus that can energise and motivate bureaucracies. The study revisits the experience of successful, not-so-successful and least successful countries across the globe within this framework and concludes by raising some pertinent concerns about SEZ-led development strategy that emerge from the analysis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransnational Corporations
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)27-47
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Special economic zones
  • Economic transformation
  • Conceptual framework
  • Political will
  • Bureaucratic capabilities
  • Developmental state

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