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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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2 Towards an integrative conceptual framework


The purpose o f this chapter is to put forward the elements o f the theoretical framework of analysis. It is divided in two sections. The first part presents the building blocks o f a framework to analyse the dynamics o f sectoral systems as constitutive for the transformative dynamics of national systems of innovation. The second part focuses on aspects o f institutional transformation, in particular the extent to which changing knowledge production and authority relationships are driving the institutional reconfiguration process that are taking place in latecomer innovation systems. Korea is moving beyond a linear model of knowledge production and use. The chapter, which is based on a critical review o f the literature that is grounded in diverse strands o f sociological, institutional, organisational, and evolutionary theorising, provides the conceptual frame that enables the description o f the evolving structures of the Korean biotechnology innovation system. The two sections bridge the gap between two bodies o f literature: The first briefly recapitulates the theoretical debates that have shaped the formulation o f the concept o f national innovation systems and its subsequent differentiations, with a particular focus on the role o f the three major concepts that have separately evolved and contributed to defining the socio-technical constituency and sectoral dynamics of innovation systems: (1) Sectoral systems o f innovation, (2) technological systems, and (3) socio-technical networks. Although the innovation systems literature provides no coherent theory, the different strands of literature suggest that the diversity o f approaches...

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