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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides an overview of the institutional structure of the business system of Laos. It explores the role of the state, the financial system, ownership and corporate governance, the internal structure of the firm (management), employment relations, education and skills formation, inter-company relations (networks), and social capital. It highlights the prevalence of the following institutional complementarities: (1) access to finance through state-owned banks and foreign direct investment, (2) labour exploitation due to hierarchical internal firm structures, weak labour rights, and insufficient skills formation, and 3. a lack of social capital. Well-connected large firms thrive in this frontier economy, whereas small firms, labourers, and farmers need to fend for themselves. This article contributes directly to the business systems and varieties of capitalism literature and identifies institutional contingencies for comparative and international social science research in general.

Keywords: Laos, Asia, business systems, varieties of capitalism, institutions, frontier economy, state-owned banks, foreign direct investment, labour exploitation, social capital

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