Phase Transition in Korea-U.S. Science and Technology Relations

By Caroline Wagner; Anny Wong et al. | Go to book overview

4.
Opportunities for Enhancing the
Korean-U.S. S&T Relationship

The S&T relationship between Korea and the United States is in the process of shifting away from what might have been called a “senior-junior” relationship or a “center-periphery” relationship toward a more balanced relationship between scientifically advanced countries. As S. C. Chung (2001) has noted, Korea's transition to world-class S&T capacity has tracked with the transition of the scientific community overall toward global R&D. This has resulted from a deliberate policy to move Korea from foreign assistance to reciprocal multinational cooperation. Happily, Korea's transition has coincided with, and been able to take advantage of, the global information revolution. Korea is one of the most highly networked societies in the world, allowing researchers to take full advantage of dynamic networks emerging in global science. These transitions present opportunities for policymakers in both countries to consider shifts in priorities and perhaps a reorganization of the binational relationship.

The binational relationship still retains a number of characteristics and features that were crafted under a center-periphery model while Korea was developing its S&T base. Some of the features of this relationship, such as the special cooperative program sponsored by NSF and MOST, are no longer optimal. In order to enhance the relationship, it may be beneficial to restructure it to better fit both the changing nature of global S&T and the changing dynamics between the two countries. Figure 4.1 illustrates this change: As many factors converge to encourage a greater networked dynamism in science, more and more projects emerge in the spontaneous-distributed quadrant. Hierarchically organized and structured research projects—while still valid for many subjects—are increasingly being displaced by dynamic, networked projects that rely on distributed, coordinated research activities.

This emerging organization of science—allowing researchers to work in their home laboratories and link with others around the world—has considerable benefits for the Korean-U.S. relationship. Although the two countries are so far apart geographically, they have a close relationship in science. Their relationship could become a model of using ICT to further enhance collaboration. Using ICT means that resources will be more effectively shared, that the cost of travel and relocation of scholars will be reduced, and that real-time tasks can be allocated

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