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  • P-ISSN 1738-656X

한국개발연구. Vol. 14, No. 1, April 1992, pp. 3-36

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The Ownership Structure of Korea's Big Business Conglomerates and Its Policy Implications (Written in Korean)


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"Corporate control by owners" characterizes the current structure of ownership, control and management of big business groups in Korea. It has become an ever more serious obstacle for the Korean economy to end its distinctive "personal capitalism" and to transform the current system into people's capitalism. The current issue, the deconcentration of ownership, through the course of heated debates should be treated from an integrated perspective. That is, the debate should center on the concentration of economic power and it effects on national economy, instead of sticking to the issue of ownership control issue per se. This paper, by referring to the historical experiences and development paths which advanced countries have already traveled, analyzes the respective aspects of the concentration issue in a rather descriptive and taxonomist manner-market concentration, business diversification, ownership concentration, integrated management of conglomerates, i.e., managing in groups' unit, and the roles of financial institutions. The government policies against the concentration of economic power have so far focused on the size of big business groups and their diversification activities. The two major policy measures are restrictions on cross-ownership and excess capital investment by big business groups, and controls on their credit deals. This paper strongly suggests that the government should change its current priorities in targeting its policies against concentration. The government should reduce the regulations on size and diversification, and focus its policies on substantial dispersion of corporate ownership. The efficacy of government intervention in the management and control of business enterprises seems quite dubious and even anachronistic given the extent of maturity of Korean firms. Therefore, it should be noted that the current regulation-oriented stance taken by the government against the management style of big business groups should be suppressed, as it has assumed some a priori and typical pattern in advance in directing big business groups, such as independent and specialized management in respective firms' unit. This paper, also, raises the need for introducing new regulations on inter-sectoral diversifications between finance, industry and the press.

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