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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides an overview of the institutional structure of the business system of South Korea. It explores the role of the state, the financial system, ownership and corporate governance, the internal structure of the firm (management), employment relations, education and skills formation, inter-company relations (networks), and social capital. Central to the Korean business system are the chaebol, major conglomerates controlled by families who usually own only a small fraction of their stock. The chaebol have been a major source of structural inertia, which the Korean state, formally very powerful, has been unable or unwilling to overcome to effect institutional changes expected by labour and the general public. This article contributes directly to the business systems and varieties of capitalism literature and identifies institutional contingencies for comparative and international social science research in general.

Keywords: South Korea, Asia, business systems, varieties of capitalism, institutions, business groups, chaebol, state, structural inertia, institutional change

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