Elder Sang-Yong Nam Memorial Lecture
"Korean Chaebols: Heroes or Villains?"
Koreans have feelings of both love and hate towards chaebols, the nation’s family-controlled business groups. Some chaebols, grown as prominent global enterprises, are their national pride. At the same time, chaebols are regarded as the major hurdle on the road to “economic democracy” which has emerged as the most hotly debated issue in the 2012 presidential campaign in Korea. Although the term “economic democracy” remains largely undefined, the “chaebol problem” has been the central theme.
The lecture highlights the evolution of chaebol’s relationship with the government as well as their ownership/organizational structure, corporate governance practices and operational behavior, all geared to maximizing the interest of controlling families. The lecture also explains: how chaebols have grown as a powerful engine of Korea’s economic growth; why they were blamed as the culprit of the 1997 economic crisis; and why they are still the target in the ongoing debate of “economic democracy” in Korea.
Dr. Sang-Woo Nam is the Dean of the KDI School of Public Policy and Management, and the Executive Secretary of the OECD-Korea Policy Centre. Previously, he served as Vice President of KDI, a tenured professor at KDI School and a Senior Research Fellow and Capacity Building Specialist at the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo. He was invited as a visiting professor at University of California, San Diego, Sophia University (Japan), and National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (Japan). Dr. Nam was also an Economist at the World Bank and the Counselor for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Planning in Korea. Dr. Nam received his B.A. in International Trade from Sogang University, and Ph.D. in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.