'Glocalization' versus Notions of Decoupling: A Critical Appraisal of the Impact of Global Economics on National Economic Performance

Michael Jakobsen


Discussing modes of political and/or economic decoupling in an era of economic globalization seems almost contradictory as the dominating keywords in the latter are increasing integration, interdependency and harmonization. For example, when looking towards the political realm it seems problematic to suggest that a nation-state can opt for a withdrawal from the global community in order to nurture its domestic potential. Likewise, when looking towards the economic realm, it seems even more problematic to suggest the possibility of a national economy withdrawing from the global economy, taking an increasing internationalization of domestic markets into account. Nonetheless, there is a discourse devoted to just that, namely whether or not to decouple economically and politically from the global community. The present article explores this discourse by first taking a critical look at the concept of decoupling. It then proceeds by presenting a different approach towards the study of the relationship between the global and national level by introducing the notion of triangulation. It is argued that the relationship between economic globalization, national economics and a given societal context in which the two former are embedded, is governed by various layers of interdependency. This means that one cannot solely focus on one point in the triangle and thus decouple, so to speak, the other two in order to understand, for example, the political or economic forces at play there. According to the argument forwarded in this article, one has to take all three points in the triangle into account in order to disentangle and thus understand the complex web of interdependency among the three. To illustrate the workings of this approach, a case study of the ramifications of a newly initiated national economic development plan in Malaysia is introduced. The article ends by returning to the decoupling discourse to re-examine it in the light of the findings from the case study.


decoupling; triangulation; economic development; inter-ethnic relations; industrialization; nation building; Penang; Malaysia

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22439/cjas.v29i2.4025

Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies
ISSN (print): 1395-4199, ISSN (online): 2246-2163

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