Governing on the Edges: Globalization of Production and the Challenge to Public Administration in the Twenty-First Century


George Abonyi is a visiting professor in the Department of Public Administration and Executive Education Program, Maxwell School, Syracuse University; and a senior advisor at the Fiscal Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance, Thailand. His current research examines how the changing nature of international business and competitiveness is presenting new challenges to public policy and the role of government, and to government–business relations, with a special focus on Asia.

David M. Van Slyke is an associate professor in the Department of Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. His current research examines government contracting, public–private partnerships, government–business relationships, and strategic management.


Globalization means many things for governments around the world in terms of governance. Questions that are left unexplored in the public administration literature are what changes in the globalization of production mean for governments and their relationships with business and civil society, and what the implications are for public administration. The authors develop a conceptual framework that governments can use to shape their interactions with business in more strategically and mutually beneficial ways. The data are derived from extensive fieldwork in the emerging economies of Southeast Asia. Key challenges to government include the importance of understanding global value chains, value chain-related trade facilitation, investment in logistics, the strengthening of enterprise clusters, effective education, skill development and training, and the governance risks inherent in value chains and networks. The essay concludes with a discussion of five key considerations for public administration in thinking, planning, and acting strategically in relationships with the private sector regarding the globalization of production. These considerations are crucial for creating business environments that strengthen economic development and manage societal concerns in ways that are aligned with public values.