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Transfers, training and inscriptions: The production of modern market citizens in Malaysia

Vanessa C.M. Chio (Milgard School of Business, University of Washington, Tacoma, Washington, USA)

critical perspectives on international business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 2 May 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an alternative understanding of knowledge transfers in developing contexts by drawing on recent deconstructions of the development sciences in anthropology and postcolonial studies to analyze transfers of management knowledge in Malaysia. Contrary to most mainstream research that conceives of transfers as a literal or objective process of skills deployment and acquisition, it refers attention to the modernist assumptions, concepts and practices of knowledge/power that are attached to knowledge transfers.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on primary and secondary data from two electronics multinational and statutory agencies in Malaysia. Primary data were collected via interviews with training officials and managers; observations were based on training and training‐related events like orientation. Secondary data include multinational and statutory agency literature, quality control circle reports and a corporate orientation video. Data analysis included discourse analysis and deconstruction.

Findings

Findings highlight the importance of situating knowledge transfers within the discursive and socially organized terrain (local and global) – economic, institutional, disciplinary – that transfers are embedded in, and the significance of knowledge transfers and the attendant focus on training as sites for cultivating and producing the modern market subjects needed to have and to sustain neoliberal forms of development and globalization. The paper re‐situates interests in knowledge transfers in terms of a need by state officials and foreign multinationals to actively produce and reconstitute local subjects into modern market citizens that are able and capable of contributing – as required – to the development and organizational needs of said institutions.

Originality/value

By extrapolating insights from recent deconstructions of the development sciences and postcolonial studies, the paper provides an alternative way of researching the process, and understanding the significance of transfers: one that showcases the close imbrications between knowledge, power, subjectification, and interconnections between local institutions/constituents (e.g. statutory agencies, government ministries, training personnel) and global capital (e.g. multinationals).

Keywords

Citation

Chio, V.C.M. (2008), "Transfers, training and inscriptions: The production of modern market citizens in Malaysia", critical perspectives on international business, Vol. 4 No. 2/3, pp. 166-183. https://doi.org/10.1108/17422040810870051

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited