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The Republic of Korea's small and medium size enterprises and their support systems

Listed author(s):
  • Linsu Kim*Nugent, Jeffrey B.

The authors evaluate the effectiveness of private and collective technical, marketing, and financial support systems for the Republic of Korea's small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs. Their report draws on a survey of 122 SMEs that make woven textiles (42 firms), auto parts (20 firms), electronic parts (20 firms), and factory-automation products (40 firms). Although Korea has a dense network of public technology-support institutions, Korean SMEs tend to turn to private sources of technical support (especially from buyers, suppliers, and moonlighting engineers) more often than in public institutions. Even so, some collective support was used often and valued highly, especially in technologically dynamic sectors. For technical assistance to be timely and relevant, its delivery must increasingly be decentralized - to industry-specific institutes and to geographic clusters of SMEs in the same industry. Among various collective providers of technical support for Korean SMEs, at least one was used by more than half of the SMEs surveyed. Collective marketing support was used much less than private sources and was not considered very useful - except by firms in the initial stages of exporting or in the pioneer stage of a new export industry. Generally, networks of local agents and foreign traders developed as firms gained in export experience. Financial assistance is the most critical form of support for SMEs. The Korean government has made extensive use of parastatal finance institutions, target credit, and credit guarantee schemes. Government intervention in finance was so pervasive that the line between private and collective support blurred. Most SMEs sampled used at least one collective institution of financial support, and rated them very positively.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1404.

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Date of creation: 31 Dec 1994
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1404
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