The Korean Business Conglomerate: Chaebol Then and Now

The Korean Business Conglomerate: Chaebol Then and Now

The Korean Business Conglomerate: Chaebol Then and Now

The Korean Business Conglomerate: Chaebol Then and Now

Excerpt

It is now widely recognized that large private business groups such as Daewoo, Hyundai, and Samsung have played a critical role in South Korea's rapid export expansion and economic growth over the past thirty years. In fact, the expansion of these large business groups has paralleled that of the South Korean economy, and given their importance in the economy South Korea's success in achieving rapid economic growth can be said to be the success of these large business groups. It is, of course, true that small and medium-sized enterprises have also contributed to economic growth, but their contribution nevertheless pales in comparison with that made by large private business groups. In 1982, for instance, 271 large enterprises out of the total of 35,971 firms in South Korea's manufacturing sector accounted for more than one-third of the value of shipment, value added, and capital in the entire manufacturing sector. What is more striking is that most of these large enterprises belonged to the top 30 business groups.

This book is about these large private business groups in South Korea, called chaebol. It discusses their origin and characteristics, their relationship with the government, their effect on the economy, and the implications of their presence and further expansion in the South Korean economy. Its publication now is especially timely as the success of the South Korean economy, which has partaken in the so- called East Asian miracle, has been too often attributed mainly to the adoption of sensible macroeconomic policies. Such an interpretation does no justice to the critical role played by individual entrepreneurs and the large business groups that these individuals control in the rapid industrialization of the South Korean economy. By carefully examining these business groups and their role in the economy the present book makes an important contribution to understanding how and why South Korea has been able to achieve rapid industrialization and export expansion in a short span of thirty years.

This book goes beyond studying South Korea's business groups. It also examines their relationship with the government, which has effectively utilized them as an instrument of its development policy Recently, however, with the political liberalization that has taken place in South Korea the powerful influence that the government . . .

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