The global electronics industry is one of the most innovation-driven and technology-intensive sectors in the contemporary world economy. From semiconductors to end products, complex transnational production and value-generating activities have integrated diverse macro-regions and national economies worldwide into the "interconnected worlds" of global electronics. This book argues that the current era of interconnected worlds started in the early 1990s when electronics production moved from systems dominated by lead firms in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan towards increasingly globalized and cross-macro-regional electronics manufacturing centered in East Asia. By the 2010s, this co-evolution of production network complexity transformed global electronics, through which lead firms from South Korea, Taiwan, and China integrated East Asia into the interconnected worlds of electronics production across the globe.
Drawing on literature on the electronics industry, new empirical material comprising custom datasets, and extensive personal interviews, this book examines through a "network" approach the co-evolution of globalized electronics production centered in East Asia across different national economies and sub-national regions. With comprehensive analysis up to 2021, Yeung analyzes the geographical configurations ("where"), organizational strategies ("how"), and causal drivers ("why") of global production networks, setting a definitive benchmark into the dynamic transformations in global electronics and other globalized industries. The book will serve as a crucial resource for academic and policy research, offering a conceptual, empirically driven grounding in the theory of these networks that has become highly influential across the social sciences.
About the author
Henry Wai-chung Yeung is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geography and Co-Director of Global Production Networks Centre at the National University of Singapore, Singapore. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2022 Sir Peter Hall Award by UK's Regional Studies Association, the 2018 Distinguished Scholarship Honors by the American Association of Geographers and the 2017 Murchison Award by UK's Royal Geographical Society.
"Henry Wai-chung Yeung provides a comprehensive and fascinating analysis of the decisive role of global production networks in driving the shift of global electronics industry to East Asia in the early 21st century. The book features rich and detailed firm level data, an excellent resource for both teaching and research. It is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the dominance of East Asia in the industry."
—Yuqing Xing, Professor of Economics, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies
"Henry Wai-chung Yeung's highly original and insightful book provides us understanding of a deeper and wider form of global production integration than that of global value chains. These are interconnected worlds of global production. The interdependencies that he captures shed light on new possibilities for global development, but also deep challenges and risks for global development policy, as well as global business."
—Michael Storper, Professor of Economic Geography, London School of Economics; Distinguished Professor of Regional and International Development, UCLA
"From startling revelations about the centrality of semiconductors in modern manufacturing to current debates on deglobalization, decoupling and the reshoring of global supply chains, the electronics industry has moved to center stage in public awareness. Interconnected Worlds could not be more timely in unpacking the regional roots of global electronics and bridging academic, firm strategy and policy domains."
—Gary Gereffi, Emeritus Professor and Director of the Global Value Chains Center at Duke University, Durham, NC
"This book is Yeung's remarkable update on his long-time study on electronic industry in Asia and the globe, comprising semi-conductors, cell phones, PCs and displays. It reflects his intellectual journey from his early focus on inter-national political economy to a new network approach on inter-firm and intra-firm production activities across national boundaries. It is timely and extremely helpful to understand the nature of the disruptions in global value chains since the US-China trade conflicts and the Covid-19, and also to derive effective responses to them."
—Keun Lee, Distinguished Professor, Seoul National University; winner of the 2014 Schumpeter Prize
"Yeung [has] made a significant contribution to our understanding of how the globe's most important technology-based industries are evolving."
—Robert Huggins and Andrew Johnston, Eurasian Geography and Economics
"[Interconnected Worlds] offers an empirical, grounded study that will inform research on the reconfiguration of global electronics production networks in the decades to follow... No doubt it will represent a 'benchmark for assessing changes in the early 2020s and beyond'."
—Chun Yang, Regional Studies
"Interconnected Worlds makes an excellent contribution to explaining the evolution of electronics GPNs by the integration of companies in East Asian [sic] or, alternatively, by tracking the shift of electornics GPNs to East Asia. It is a thorough and exhaustive piece of work and easily the most complete analysis of the electronics sector in East Asia and its integration with electronics GPNs."
—Seamus Grimes, Economic Geography