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The multifaceted evolution of Korean technological capabilities and its implications for contemporary policy


  • Linsu Kim


This paper is a contribution to the ongoing debate on the impact and relevance of intellectual property to development. It confirms the finding of recent studies: the effects of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on technology transfer will vary by levels of economic development. The Korean experience offers four lessons. First, strong IPR protection will hinder rather than facilitate technology transfer and indigenous learning in the early stage of industrialization when learning takes place through reverse engineering and duplicative imitation of mature foreign products. Second, only after countries have accumulated sufficient indigenous capabilities with extensive science and technology infrastructure to undertake creative imitation IPR protection becomes an important element in technology transfer and industrial activities. Third, if adequate protection and enforcement of IPRs is genuinely intended to enhance development, policy-makers should seriously consider differentiation in terms of the level of economic development and industrial sectors. Fourth, developing countries should co-operate to change current trends towards a standardized all-encompassing multilateral IPR system. They should strive to make IPR policies more favourable to them in the short term. But they should also strengthen their own absorptive capacity for a long-term solution.

Suggested Citation

  • Linsu Kim, 2004. "The multifaceted evolution of Korean technological capabilities and its implications for contemporary policy," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(3), pages 341-363.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:32:y:2004:i:3:p:341-363
    DOI: 10.1080/1360081042000260566

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