Title: The political economics of industrial development in the Korean automotive sector

Authors: Byoung-Hoon Lee

Addresses: Department of Sociology, Chung-Ang University, 221 Heuksuk-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul 156-756, Republic of Korea

Abstract: This case study examines how the Korean auto sector has advanced via a series of industrial restructurings, focusing on employment relations and governmental policy from the perspective of a national political economy. The successful case of the Korean auto industry highlights the significance of the government|s strategic approach to nurturing the auto sector and facilitating industrial restructuring. Industrial restructuring is crucial for optimising market competition and advancing firm-level competitiveness, as illustrated by two waves of industrial restructuring – the first, state-led in the early 1980s and the second market-driven as a result of the economic crisis of 1997–1998 – which act as selective processes that weed out unfit players while strengthening the survivors of industry-level competition. From a political economy perspective the persistent influence of the state in the developmental and restructuring processes forges a |tightly-coupled| relationship between government and automakers that is unseen in the advanced economies.

Keywords: Korean auto industry; political economy; industrial development; employment relations; South Korea; automobile industry; government policy; industrial restructuring; automotive manufacturing.

DOI: 10.1504/IJATM.2011.039541

International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 2011 Vol.11 No.2, pp.137 - 151

Published online: 07 Apr 2011 *

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