1st Edition

Entrepreneurship in Korea From Chaebols to Start-ups

By Martin Hemmert, Jae-Jin Kim Copyright 2021
    188 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Entrepreneurship in Korea offers a fresh perspective on entrepreneurship in Korea by combining a historical review of the achievements of Korean entrepreneurs at each stage of economic development with an analysis of the activities of current entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of the new Korean age. It discusses the crucial role of business entrepreneurship in each stage of Korea’s transformation from an underdeveloped East Asian backwater to a global manufacturing and technology powerhouse throughout the last 100 years. Furthermore, it provides an up-to-date analysis of contemporary start-up entrepreneurship in Korea and discusses its unique characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.

    Authors identify specific features of entrepreneurship in Korea, why and how business entrepreneurs have been so successful and effective, how their entrepreneurial styles and activities have changed over time, which challenges Korean start-up entrepreneurs are currently facing, and how these challenges may be addressed.

    Part I Introduction 1. Entrepreneurship: driving force of the Korean economic miracle Part II Entrepreneurs across stages of Korea’s economic development 2. Early Korean entrepreneurs 3. Small-scale entrepreneurs turned large: chaebol founders 4. New Korean entrepreneurs: venture firm and start-up founders 5. Synthesis: features of Korean entrepreneurs from a global perspective Part III Korean start-up entrepreneurship in the twenty-first century 6. The start-up ecosystem of Seoul 7. Resources, business strategies and performance of Korean start-ups: a survey data analysis 8. The entrepreneurial activities of technology start-ups in Seoul: a longitudinal interview study 9. Synthesis: characteristics of start-up entrepreneurship in Korea Part IV Conclusion and outlook 10. The essence and future of Korean entrepreneurship Bibliography. Index


    Martin Hemmert is Professor of International Business at Korea University in Seoul. His research interests include international comparative studies of management systems, innovation systems and entrepreneurial ecosystems, organizational boundaries of firms, and inter-organizational research collaborations, with a focus on East Asian countries.

    Jae-Jin Kim is a Faculty of Hoseo University Business School and teaches international business, strategic management, and international business practice. He received a Ph.D. in International Business at Korea University Business School. He also has working experience in various firms, including multinational corporations.

    "To many observers the ‘Miracle on the Han’ emerged from a judicious mix of direction and collusion of state and big business – the infamous chabeol. Yet such behemoths were not ‘born big’. This new book provides a timely temporal, spatial and comparative examination and analysis of the entrepreneurship – its styles, effectiveness and successes - behind both these businesses and more generally, based on useful survey and longitudinal interview research. This entrepreneurship is grounded in the key contextual conditions of economic, organisation institutional and cultural factors. The book’s important key implications for both business and management theory and practice revolve around the contingent and non-universal nature of entrepreneurship. Furthermore, this entrepreneurial idiosyncrasy is apparent not only when compared to the West, which was somewhat expected, but actually from elsewhere in East Asia, which was perhaps less expected. What this means for researchers is an ever greater role for both indigenous theory and fieldwork."

    -Chris Rowley, Professor, Kellogg College, University of Oxford & The Business School, City, University of London

    "This book deals with the development of modern Korean entrepreneurship which is closely related to unique management practices and structures of Korean chaebols. It analyzes a wide range of issues of Korean entrepreneurship in-depth including family backgrounds, personal characteristics, visions, sacrifice, and life-long dedication of key Korean entrepreneurs, all of which are essential components in understanding Korean entrepreneurship. This book is highly recommended not only for academic researchers but also for practitioners and today’s entrepreneurs who are interested in global business."

    -Mannsoo Shin, Professor, Korea University Business School   

    "Korea is a technological success story where, if you blink, you may miss important changes. A key watchpoint today is how rapidly Korean businesses, large and small, are creating new entrepreneurial strategies to meet global demands. Hemmert and Kim have provided an excellent assessment of how entrepreneurship in Korea has changed, but also how it will continue to evolve into the future. This is a must-read book for both scholars and business people interested in how and why this enigmatic country continues to succeed."

    -Richard M. Steers, Professor Emeritus of International Management, University of Oregon, USA

    "Overall, this book stands out from the flood of titles now discussing and promoting entrepreneurship in Asia as a consequence of the manner in which it guides readers towards understanding the history of entrepreneurship in Korea. It informs readers not only of relevant shifts in industrial history, styles of business leadership and other distinctive management trends. It helps readers understand and appreciate the mindsets motivating and distinguishing entrepreneurs in Korea.

    Thus, this book succeeds in offering readers a grasp of the impact generated by Korean entrepreneurship on the nation’s economic growth – indeed, of any country’s social, techno-logical and economic development and business growth. It speaks directly to practitioners in Asian business and management in that it explains lucidly Korean entrepreneurship trends through case studies of entrepreneurs in different stages from micro and macro perspectives, providing both conceptual and empirical evidence. It enables the reader to explore the world of entrepreneurship in Korea from various perspectives and understand the intermingling of Korean philosophy, culture, and business environment in a complex ecosystem and amid complex entrepreneurial factors."

    -Yuko Inada, book reviewer for Asia Pacific Business Review, published online 27 June 2022