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Neo-liberal Korea and Still Developmentalist Japan: Myth or Reality?


  • Yong Wook Lee
  • Sun Young Kwak


In the “varieties of capitalism” debate, scholars have paid considerable attention to the question of whether Korea and Japan have left behind their interventionist political economy for neo-liberal reform. In this paper, we re-examine the scholarly consensus that Korea has become a neo-liberal state, while Japan has not changed much. On the basis of our comparison of the extent of the two countries' neo-liberal reforms using the “business systems framework” developed by Witt, we demonstrate that neo-liberal reforms observed in Korea and Japan are not substantially different enough to warrant the view that the two countries have taken divergent paths of institutional development. With this finding, we call for further empirical study, including the development and use of more qualitative data. We suggest that the future direction research should take on this issue in order to make theoretical contributions to the existing literature on institutional change and continuity in “non-liberal” capitalist countries. We do this by offering some methods in which future researchers could identify necessary and sufficient causes of Korea's and Japan's neo-liberal (or non-neo-liberal) shift.

Suggested Citation

  • Yong Wook Lee & Sun Young Kwak, 2009. "Neo-liberal Korea and Still Developmentalist Japan: Myth or Reality?," Global Economic Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 277-295.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:glecrv:v:38:y:2009:i:3:p:277-295 DOI: 10.1080/12265080903157334

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Penélope Pacheco-López, 2005. "Foreign Direct Investment, Exports and Imports in Mexico," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(8), pages 1157-1172, August.
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