Bangkok: Evolution and adaptation under stress

Douglas Webster

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Bangkok, the dominant city in Southeast Asia by 2003, and the political capital of Thailand has experienced high levels of stress since the early 1980s, associated both with periods of very rapid economic growth, and economic crisis. This assessment focuses on the adaptive behavior of key stakeholders that significantly influenced the economic, social, and environmental performance of the Bangkok urban region over that period. Bangkok was at the center of a severe recession in Thailand in the early 1980s, peaking in 1984, that forced the national government completely to reorient its closed, import-substitution development strategy to one of openness and export-oriented manufacturing. Yet by the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bangkok was one of the fastest growing urban economies in the world, growing at an annualized rate of 17.2% between 1990 and 1996, a rate surpassed during that period only by coastal Chinese cities. The Extended Bangkok Region (EBR) became the engine of the post-1984 boom, known as the “Golden Age of Manufacturing,” driven to a considerable extent by foreign direct investment (FDI). But, domestic financial mismanagement, in the context of rapidly changing and volatile conditions associated with rapid liberalization of global economic, financial, and trading systems, resulted in Bangkok being ground zero in the Asian economic crisis that started in July 1997. By 1999, Bangkok's economy had returned to positive growth but at a much lower rate – approximately 3 to 5% (annually) from 1999 to 2000 (World Bank 2001, fig. 3, p. 3).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWorld Cities Beyond the West
Subtitle of host publicationGlobalization, Development, and Inequality
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9780511550799
ISBN (Print)9780521830034
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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