Multiculturalism in Singapore and Malaysia: approaches and outcomes

Kuah, Adrian T. H., Kim, Chang H., and Le Queux, Stéphane (2021) Multiculturalism in Singapore and Malaysia: approaches and outcomes. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 40 (3). pp. 290-308.

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Purpose: This paper examines cases of multiculturalism in Singapore and Malaysia. Through causal socio-cultural mechanisms, we observe how two countries in proximity, with shared histories and demographic profiles, achieve differing outcomes in regard to social cohesion and competitiveness.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper employs case-centric process tracing (CPT) to build a ‘plausible’ explanation of causal mechanisms that can contribute to social cohesion and competitiveness. We adopt a common analytical framework to distil the nuances of generalizability and a cross-case analysis in order to ascertain factors that enable multiculturalism.

Findings: Different causal mechanisms result in diverging outcomes in the two countries. In managing multiculturalism, Singapore has pursued policy actions emphasizing ‘integration and pragmatism’, while Malaysia has followed a model of ‘separation and preferentialism’. Judging by a selected number of established indicators, Singapore’s multiculturalism outcomes seem more successful than that of Malaysia in respect to areas of national competitiveness and interethnic tolerance.

Practical implications: This paper shed insights on the policy actions that promoted multicultural integration. The process tracing approach is found to be a useful tool in helping policy makers understand how intrinsic mechanisms can contribute to more/less desirable socioeconomic outcomes.

Originality/value: Together with the evidence using the CPT approach, the paper draws attention to multiculturalism evolving through distinctive sets of public policy. We ultimately suggest that such policies can be paralleled to the function played by institutions in leading to ‘varieties of capitalism’ and have an impact on achieving cohesive and competitive societies.

Item ID: 64590
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2040-7157
Keywords: multiculturalism, diversity, Singapore, Malaysia
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. In accordance with the publisher's policies, the Author Accepted Manuscript of this publication is available Open Access from ResearchOnline@JCU.
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2020 04:53
FoR Codes: 35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350503 Human resources management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9402 Government and Politics > 940204 Public Services Policy Advice and Analysis @ 100%
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