Beyond the Chaebol? The social purpose of entrepreneurship promotion in South Korea

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The global diffusion of entrepreneurship promotion, motivated by policymakers’ desire to drive innovation, job creation and economic growth, is increasingly ubiquitous. As part of this trend, South Korea, an archetypal developmental state, has provided growing support to entrepreneurial activities in the 20 years since the Asian Financial Crisis. The motivation – and resulting form – of Korea’s policies is nevertheless unique among developmental states. In this article, we explain its distinctiveness by arguing that Korean entrepreneurship promotion is motivated by tripartite social purposes: (permanent) job creation, economic diversification and chaebol competitiveness through the injection of the innovation capacity of start-ups. Making use of interview data and policy document analysis, we show that policymakers design entrepreneurship promotion according to these three social purposes. We conclude with a critical analysis of the policy shift, asserting that start-ups offer a distinct set of social risks when conceptualised as a provider of steady jobs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-656
Number of pages20
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number4
Early online date16 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2019


  • chaebol
  • developmental state
  • employment
  • entrepreneurship
  • industrial policy
  • innovation
  • social purpose
  • South Korea


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