Business Ethics During Mixed Modes of Exchange: South Korean Chaebol’s Succession Challenge

Publisher:
THE INSTITUTE OF KOREAN STUDIES
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Korea Observer, 2014, 45 (3), pp. 415 - 435
Issue Date:
2014-10-31
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In his study on pathways to economic development, John Lie (1992) developed the concept of modes of exchange and identified four typologies: market, manorial, mercantile and entrepreneurial. We discuss the relevance of these typologies to Korea’s post-war economic development and focus specifically on how modes of market exchange may affect wider interpretations of business ethics. In the post-war period, we argue that there was no linear or clearly-staged trajectory from one mode of exchange to another and, in this context of uncertainty, elites used this as an opportunity to rationalize and justify certain practices. However, the 1997 Asian financial crisis unleashed forces that drove a significant shift towards the establishment of a more open and globalized market environment. This has created new challenges for the chaebol and its attempts to hold on to structures of the past, in particular to maintain family ownership through succession from father to son.
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