Multi-level Modularity vs. Hierarchy: Global Production Networks in Singapore's Electronics Industry

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An examination of Singapore's electronics industry is used to construct a generalized model of organizational forms in global production networks within the electronics industry. The model includes an extension of the modular production network derived from studies of the US electronic equipment industry where brand name firms concentrate on product innovation, design and marketing while contracting out manufacturing to turnkey suppliers. In the case of Singapore, however, the original model is too simple to incorporate the multiple levels of contract manufacturing relationships within the electronics industry. The modular network in the semiconductor industry is compared with the hierarchical production network identified in the hard disk drive industry, the other dominant segment of Singapore s electronics industry. The two industries are differently inserted in their global production networks in response to different production technology and corresponding differences in codifiability of the information needed for transactions between buyer and seller within the network. Despite their different organizational forms, the presence in Singapore of both segments is dependent on the maintenance and further development of regional production networks that are able to match requirements determined by global dynamics. State industrial policies in Singapore are already directed at the challenges and seem to be sufficiently comprehensive to withstand the challenges from the rapidly upcoming electronics industry in China and rivalling Southeast Asian neighbor states.