social sciences

Studying South-East Asian transition economies is a success story of EU-funded research

Project IKID research seminar at the University of Lausanne with participants from Estonia, Switzerland, Cambodia and Laos. Photo by: Aaro Hazak.
Project IKID research seminar at the University of Lausanne with participants from Estonia, Switzerland, Cambodia and Laos. Photo by: Aaro Hazak.

European Commission has selected the Horizon 2020 project IKID „Institutions for Knowledge Intensive Development: Economic and Regulatory Aspects in South-East Asian Transition Economies“ – led by Tallinn University of Technology economics and legal researchers – as one of the success stories of their supported research projects.

The focus of Project IKID is the economic transition in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam – some of the globally fastest growing economies in South-East Asia. The key idea is to study the challenges and opportunities of development into knowledge based economies under the transition process. The partners of TalTech in the four-year project (2017-2020) are the University of Lausanne from Switzerland, and leading economics and law universities of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Aaro Hazak, the Project Leader and Professor of Institutional Economics at TalTech: “Showcasing our project as a success story is a very pleasant recognition that the project has progressed in the right direction and gives extra inspiration to the project team for the ongoing research and development activities. It is important to recognise how crucial it is to support knowledge based development when upgrading the economic and legal systems in the transition process to improve quality and sustainability in the long term.”

Transition process is often staggering – as we recall from the Estonian experience from 1990ies – but providing a unique window of opportunity to shape institutions that nevertheless require reform so that these support research and development, innovation, modern technology adoption and quality education, which in turn contribute to the achievement of competitive advantages and higher value added in the economy. It is important to focus not only on the economic growth aspirations but on long term sustainable development, building on efficient use of resources and enhancement of individual wellbeing. Those aspects provide ample learning opportunities from the experiences of Estonia and other Central and Eastern European countries during the post-socialist period.

Research on European regions, led by the Head of the Department of Economics and Finance, Professor Kadri Männasoo, found that knowledge intensity is accumulative and leads to substantial positive productivity effects in the economy. „Enhancement of knowledge intensity in the present day economy is less and less constrained by the geographical location and is increasingly driven by the absorptive capacity of economies in adopting knowledge and new technologies with the  support  of institutions contributing to sustained development of R&D“, explains Professor Männasoo.

One of the project outcomes relates to efficient work arrangements in knowledge intensive work, bringing out how important it is that regulations allow for flexible work and account for inherent individual differences in creative work preferences. This is important to efficiently use the intellectual capacity of knowledge employees while enhancing their wellbeing in parallel.

Head of TalTech Law School, Professor Tanel Kerikmäe: “The risk analysis provided by our law school and knowledge transfer activities in relation to the need to revise regulations under technological and social innovation have received very positive feedback from our partners in those fast developing economies, particularly in the regulatory context of data use, artificial intelligence and identifying best practices from the Estonian experience in implementing e-governance practices.”

In parallel to the research, the project activities comprise staff exchanges with the South-East Asian partner universities, organising of conferences, seminars and training events, as well as knowledge exchange with the public and private sector.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 734712.

Additional information: Aaro Hazak, Professor of Institutional Economics, TalTech Department of Economics and Finance,

Project webpage:

Success stories of the European Commission research project:

Kersti Vähi, TalTech Research Administration Office

Read more

Get our monthly newsletterBe up-to-date with all the latest news and upcoming events