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Catching-Up, Crisis and Industrial Upgrading. Evolutionary Aspects of Technological Learning in Korea's Electronics Industry

  • Dieter Ernst

This paper addresses a puzzle: How is it possible that a country that has established a broad, export-oriented industrial base at record speed, remains vulnerable to the vicissitudes of international finance and currency markets? I argue that the Korean model that was tremendously successful for catching-up, has now reached its limits. The analysis centers on the co-evolution of industry structure and firm behavior. The focus is on the role of technological learning for the development of the electronics industry, a main carrier of Korea´s successful late industrialization. It is shown that a heavy reliance on credit and an extremely unbalanced industry structure have given rise to a narrow knowledge base and a sticky pattern of specialization. Catching-up has focused on capacity and international market share expansion for homogeneous, mass-produced products; very little upgrading has occurred into higher-end and rapidly growing market segments for differentiated products and services. Such truncated upgrading is one important reason for Korea´s vulnerability to the financial and currency crisis.

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Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 98-16.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:98-16
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.druid.dk/

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  1. Peter Maskell, 1996. "Localised Low-tech Learning in the Furniture Industry," DRUID Working Papers 96-11, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  2. Jomo KS, 1998. "Financial liberalization, crises, and Malaysian policy responses," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(8), pages 1563-1574, August.
  3. Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Firms, Incomplete Contracts and Organizational Learning," DRUID Working Papers 96-2, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
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