Big Business, Strong State

Collusion and Conflict in South Korean Development, 1960-1990

By Eun Mee Kim

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Korean Studies
Paperback : 9780791432105, 280 pages, February 1997
Hardcover : 9780791432099, 280 pages, February 1997

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Table of contents

Tables and Figures



1 The Paradox of South Korean Development

Studies on South Korean Development

Toward an Analysis of State and Business in a Dialectical Process of Social Change

Organization of the Book

Part I Institutions of Development

2 The State

The Developmental State and the Authoritarian State

Transformation of the Developmental State

Concluding Remarks

3 The Chaebol (Business Conglomerate)

Industrial Organization

The Historical and Structural Context of the Chaebol

Concluding Remarks

Part II History of Development

4 The State and the Remaking of the Chaebol (1960s)

Park Chung Hee and the Military Coup of May 16, 1961

The Relationship between the State and the Private Sector

Changes in the Private Sector: The Remaking of the Chaebol

Concluding Remarks

5 The State-Chaebol Alliance for Development(1970s)

The State's Drive for Heavy and Chemical Industrialization

The Concentration of Wealth and the Growth of the Chaebol

Concluding Remarks

6 The Decline of the Developmental State and the Rise of the Chaebol (1980s)

The Transition of a Comprehensive Developmental State to a Limited Developmental State

The Growth of the Chaebol

The Growth of Labor and Labor Movements

Concluding Remarks

7 Collusion and Conflict: The State and Business in the Development Process

The South Korean Model of Economic Development

South Korea's Lessons for Third World Nations

Future Prospects of South Korea

Appendix: Romanization of Korean Words




Focuses on the paradox of development in the newly industrializing country of South Korea.


This book debunks the rosy success story about South Korean economic development by analyzing how the state and businesses formed an alliance, while excluding labor, in order to attain economic development, and how these three entities were transformed in the process. The author analyzes the paradox of South Korean development from 1960 to 1990—a period during which the country experienced dramatic social, economic, and political changes. By reexamining South Korea's development through the collaboration and conflict between the state and the chaebol (big businesses), she illuminates the inherent limitations and problems of the developmental state.

Eun Mee Kim is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California.


"…Kim succeeds in telling a non-neoclassical story of economic success in South Korea. She skillfully highlights the developmental importance of recognizing the long-term roles of the neo-classical features required in individual state and business institutions, but, also, she recognizes the importance of admitting that institutional change is gradual and not instantaneous. " — H-Net Reviews (H-Business)

"Among the many books that have been written on Korea's "economic miracle," none does a better job than this one of chronicling the growth of the giant industrial conglomerates that have come to dominate the Korean economy and setting out the evolution of their relations to the state. Eun Mee Kim harnesses an unusually rich set of data to a nicely nuanced analysis of the changing structure of business-state relations in Korea. Anyone trying to understand the dynamics of East Asian industrialization needs to read Big Business, Strong State. " — Peter Evans, University of California, Berkeley

"Big Business, Strong State is an important book on an important subject. Based on careful empirical research, Eun Mee Kim analyzes the changing roles of state and business conglomerates in the dramatic development of South Korea that within a generation turned one of the world's poorest countries into an industrial society. Kim illuminates the Korean story by discussing it in a comparative context, and she identifies critical unresolved issues in Korea's future. " — Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Asa Messer Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Development at Brown University

"A timely and highly informative book on the rise of Korean big business, not simply as an economic power but as a potent rival to state power. This book adds a sociopolitical dimension to the literature on South Korean development by focusing on the ironies and contradictions of the developmental process. An important contribution to the growing literature on the political economy of South Korean industrialization. " — Hagen Koo, University of Hawaii, Manoa

"This is a great book. It stimulates debate about big business and big government. An important contribution in the field. " — Alice Amsden, Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Political Economy, MIT