Transitioning from fast-follower to innovator: the institutional foundations of the Korean telecommunications sector

Sung-Young Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


In a world of rapid technological change and increasing interdependence between national and global networks, what institutions are necessary to facilitate the execution of a developmental project? An increasingly popular view expects the East Asian model of development to be ill-equipped to deal with the challenges involved in the information economy while the institutions of a 'developmental network state' are argued to be of greater utility. This paper tests this view in light of a dramatic shift in the business strategy of Korean firms in the telecommunications sector in the early years of the twenty-first century. I argue that core features of the Korean model have been recombined in creative and unanticipated ways to meet the twin challenges of economic openness and knowledge-based industrialisation. The argument is developed through an examination of the Korean government's promotion of a novel Korean-developed mobile broadcasting standard. I identify and trace the emergence of the institutional conditions which facilitated the rise of new and innovative forms of state-industry collaboration. The findings have implications for two outstanding issues in the developmental state literature: the role of former developmental states after liberalisation and the type of institutions useful beyond the catch-up process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-168
Number of pages29
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental state
  • innovation
  • Korea
  • industry policy
  • telecommunications
  • WTO


Dive into the research topics of 'Transitioning from fast-follower to innovator: the institutional foundations of the Korean telecommunications sector'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this