In Southeast Asia, partial recovery from financial crisis has been accompanied by signs of the start of a local version of America's internet business boom. E-businesses and dotcom start-ups have emerged. Political and business leaders have touted the virtues of the so-called "new economy" and its potential for resolving the post-crisis malaise that still affects parts of the region. But is the e-business revolution in Southeast Asia real? Are technologies and business practices being transformed? Or is the "new economy" mainly hype and wishful thinking? Does e-business spell the death of monopolies and conglomerates at the hands of agile new entrants? Or is it popular because it provides an alternative to fundamental business restructuring? And what do the answers to these questions imply for economic recovery and political reform?
Linda Lim is the associate director of the International Institute and Director of the Southeast Asia Business Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She has written and lectured extensively on political economy, economic development, and business practices in Southeast Asia, where she recently completed preliminary field research on the appearance and growth of electronic business.