Telecommunications Inc.: Korea's Challenge to Qualcomm

Author: Kim, Sung-Young

Date: 2009

Publisher: University of Sydney, Department of Government and International Relations

Type: Thesis

Link to this item using this URL:

The University of Auckland Library


Building on the success of the 1990s, in the past decade the Korean state has attempted a transition from a strategy based on catching-up to one based on innovation in the domestic telecommunications industry, which I call ‘Telecommunications Inc.’. Concomitant with this shift is a new set of challenges for the state in supporting companies that seek to reap first-mover advantages. How, if at all, has the Korean state supported the technological upgrading ambitions of domestic firms in the telecommunications industry in an era of greater economic openness? The core contention of this study is that the Korean state has coped with economic openness through adapting institutions. The existence of a ‘quasi-pilot agency’, the extension of new linkages to a wider array of private sector participants, and the emergence of ‘technology-centred forums’ represent the fine-tuning of organisational arrangements to cope with the pressures of global technology-based competition. The emergence of WTO rules appears to have helped recast rather than ruled out developmental strategy in the Korean telecommunications industry. The Korean state has coped with the rise of the global trade regime by adopting development strategies based on ‘exploiting’, which entails increasing state activism in areas not explicitly prohibited and proactively embracing rules that encourages greater state activity. The Korean state has coped by ‘modifying’ such rules to meet strategic industry objectives; either by using overt measures that take advantage of loopholes and ambiguities contained in the legal texts of the WTO and by using covert below-the-radar measures. I demonstrate my argument through an examination of the goals, underlying strategic motivations and the strategy involved in the Korean Government’s promotion of three technological standards related to telecommunications software, fourth generation mobile broadband, and mobile broadcasting.

Citation: ["Sub type: PhD Thesis. Supervisors: Weiss L. University of Sydney, 2009"]