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The Reconfiguration of a Latecomer Innovation System

Governing Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Innovation in South Korea


Dirk Johann

The book examines the evolving governance of pharmaceutical biotechnology in South Korea in order to derive conclusions about the dynamics of a latecomer system transition. Based on an analysis of innovation activities in the biomedical sector, which is complemented by expert interviews, the research contends that the Korean post-developmental state should be geared towards coordinating the interplay of technologies, modes of organization and institutions. An integrative framework is developed to describe system change as a co-evolutionary process in which the national and sectoral dimensions intersect. The case shows that the shaping of an environment in which innovation systems can develop sectoral transformative capacity is a central aspect of latecomer innovation governance.


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As with any research undertaken over several years, this is also the result o f a reflection process that draws on the involvement o f many different people that helped me to express the ideas in it. The first ideas for this book, which is based on my doctoral dissertation in Sociology at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, were developed during a Marie Curie fellowship at the University of Sussex (SPRU). The initial formulation of the theme received encouragement from Keith Pavitt whose ideas have become important guideposts for my own development to conduct the research that led to the dissertation. My interest in industrial policy for catch-up development was initially raised by Robert Wade's research on Korea and Taiwan that decisively shaped the academic view on the coordinative capacity o f the East Asian developmental state. During the field research for this book, the interactions with dozens of researchers, policymakers and R&D managers provided a rich source of information and advice. In Korea, I would like to thank researchers at the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI), the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET), the Korea Development Institute (KDI), and the Korea Research Institute o f Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) for the generous support I received. Without their orientation, the access to interview partners would often have been more difficult. I would also like to thank my interview partners at various Korean bioventure firms for sharing valuable information and providing access to materials often very...

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