The Business of Transition: Law Reform, Development and Economics in Myanmar

Edited by Melissa Crouch (2017), Cambridge University Press

This volume offers a timely reflection on law, development and economics through empirical and comparative perspectives on contemporary Myanmar. The central theme of the book is to understand the business that takes place in times of major political change through law and development initiatives and foreign investment. This book identifies the way in which law reform creates new markets, embodies hopes of social engineering and is animated by economic gain. This book is an invitation to think carefully and critically about the intersection between law, development and economics in times of political transition. The chapters in this volume speak to a range of common issues – land rights, access to finance, economic development, the role of law including its potential and its limits, and the intersection between local actors, globalised ideas and the international community. This interdisciplinary book is for students, scholars and practitioners of law and development, Asian Studies, political science and international relations.

“This is compulsory reading for policy analysts and/or academics interested in the process of business and commercial legal reform. Through the prism of Myanmar – a country at the confluence of geoeconomics, political and economic transition – the contributors to this volume bring to bear theoretical sophistication alongside deep empirical knowledge to explore the business of transition. The book eschews technocratic analysis of legal reform, and instead analyses how social forces such as business, labour, the legal profession as well as political elites and multilateral organisations are engaged in contestations that shape the business of transition. It is essential reading material for anyone wishing to understand the complex dynamics of legal change, not just in Myanmar but in an array transitional economies and polities.” Professor Kanishka Jayasuriya, Murdoch University 

“The Business of Transition offers a new and searching critique of the decades-long enterprise of law and development. Myanmar cross-disciplinary specialists in law and markets superbly question glib conventionalities, boldly encounter intricate complexities, and refuse to be locked into formulaic answers. Through intensive case studies the authors skillfully explore the complex, fraught and sometimes paradoxical interplay between international donors and advisors and domestic actors, whether political elites, businesses, non-profits, civil society or local communities. Every specialist in globalization, law and markets will benefit greatly from thoughtful engagement with this excellent volume as it reveals again the intricacy and particularity of every country’s encounter with the transnational and global.” Professor Terence Halliday, Center on Law and Globalization, American Bar Foundation “Myanmar provides a particularly instructive context for exploring the relationship between law and development as it undergoes two dramatic and simultaneous transitions: from military rule to semi-democracy, and from socialism to a market economy. The essays in this volume make a compelling case that “best practices” transplanted from foreign jurisdictions provide limited purchase on the unique challenges that such transitions entail and imply more modesty than has often been the case on the part of external agencies in promoting their conception of an appropriate law reform agenda.” 
Professor Michael Trebilcock, University of Toronto
“The contributors to this volume, diverse in origin, expertise and experience, blend to give an insightful commentary on and exposition of the present realities and future possibilities of this unique transitional economy. It places contemporary empirical data in a broader context. Its coverage of economic, legal, social, political, moral and humanitarian issues as well as the examination of the interaction between domestic, regional and international regimes make this a book that should be on the shelves of scholarly and business readers alike.’ 

Mary E. Hiscock – Emeritus Professor of Law, Bond University, Australia