Institutional Entrepreneurs in North Korea: Emerging Shadowy Private Enterprises under Dire Economic Conditions

By Lim, Jae Cheon; Yoon, InJoo | North Korean Review, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Institutional Entrepreneurs in North Korea: Emerging Shadowy Private Enterprises under Dire Economic Conditions


Lim, Jae Cheon, Yoon, InJoo, North Korean Review


Introduction

The North Korean economy has been deteriorating since the 1990s because of food, energy, and raw material shortages, which were mainly driven by the disinteDepartment gration of the Soviet Union and the end of its economic assistance to North Korea.1 Although food shortages have symbolized North Korea's economic crisis, energy shortages have had a more direct impact on its economy. Energy shortages have damaged the operational capability of the country's industries, particularly its heavy industry,2 and crippled its agricultural sector by limiting the supply of chemical fertilizers (which are critical to the sector's production outcome), resulting in grain shortages.3

Making matters worse, a number of natural disasters, including floods, droughts, and hailstorms, devastated the country in the mid-1990s. The economic crisis, combined with natural disasters, led to the collapse of the country's food-rationing system, which had played a key role in providing North Koreans with basic necessities, and this collapse in turn led to mass starvation. It is known that a large number of North Koreans died of starvation during this period and that many escaped to China and other countries. When the food-rationing system worked well, it was the main source of food and basic necessities for North Koreans; markets played only a minor role in the public distribution system. However, once the rationing system became dysfunctional, markets became the main distribution channel. Further, when the economic crisis continued, markets spread to all of North Korean society, and market-related rules and norms followed.

The ongoing economic crisis has not only changed the North Korean economy as a whole but also had considerable influence on the development of the country's industrial enterprises. Because of the lack of energy and raw materials, the North Korean government no longer establishes economic plans. Instead, it has prioritized its limited resources for some strategic industries (e.g., the munitions industry) and distributed them mainly to enterprises of strategic importance,4 leaving enterprises in light industry and other less important sectors to survive on their own. Currently, various markets provide North Koreans with most of the items that the state-controlled public distribution system used to provide, and newly emerging private enterprises have been playing a key role in such markets. Private enterprises, despite being illegal, have become an integral part of North Korean society, and thus, the government would have considerable difficulty in prohibiting their commercial activity.

Private enterprises are very different from collective enterprises, which used to be the primary actor in the socialist economy, in terms of their goals and management. Private enterprises pursue profits, hire workers, and sell products in markets that are not controlled by the state. Further, they follow market rules and norms. The purpose of this paper is to examine newly emerging private enterprises in North Korea-that is, shadowy private enterprises (SPEs)-by focusing on their activities. To analyze SPEs' roles and status in the North Korean economy, this paper takes the institutionalist perspective. In particular, the paper employs the concept of institutional entrepreneurship that some institutionalists have developed based on new institutionalism.

Institutional Entrepreneurs and Shadowy Private Enterprises in North Korea

Institutionalists examine not only institutional continuity but also the possibility of institutional change. Whereas the former is the very essence of institutionalism, the latter has relatively received little attention. Institutions, however, are not as stable as some institutional theorists claim.5 As a set of heterogeneous elements (not a single and coherent set), the institutional order tends to hold potential tension within itself because heterogeneous institutional elements established in different historical periods carry different interests and identities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Institutional Entrepreneurs in North Korea: Emerging Shadowy Private Enterprises under Dire Economic Conditions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.