Science, technology and innovation policy

OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Korea


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See also: Industry and Technology Policies in Korea (published May 2014)

Pages: 264
ISBN 978-92-64-06722-6
Published: July 2009


How are a country’s achievements in innovation defined and measured, and how do they relate to economic performance? What are the major features, strengths and weaknesses of a nation’s innovation system? How can government foster innovation?

The OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy offer a comprehensive assessment of the innovation system of individual OECD member and non-member countries, focusing on the role of government. They provide concrete recommendations on how to improve policies which affect innovation performance, including R&D policies. Each review identifies good practices from which other countries can learn.

Korea’s exceptional economic success over the last half century has few parallels and has been driven in no small part by a firm commitment to innovation. Among its strengths, Korea has one of the highest rates of spending on R&D in the world, much of is performed by private firms. It also has a highly educated labour force – as signalled by its impressive PISA performance and exceptionally high rates of tertiary level graduation – with a strong interest in science and technology. However, a number of bottlenecks persist that hamper Korea’s economic convergence with the leading OECD economies. These include a relatively weak SME sector and weak performance in services, as well as lagging capacities to conduct leading-edge research in many areas. Furthermore, Korea faces numerous threats in the mid term, notably increased levels of competition from China and other newly-industrialising economies, the lowest fertility rate in the OECD and an ageing society, and a continuing high dependency on imports of natural resources, particularly hydrocarbons. In the shorter term, the economic crisis offers its own challenges, with the need for some policy adjustments to deal with expected falls in business investment in R&D and growing levels of unemployment among the highly skilled.

This publication assesses the current status of Korea’s innovation system and policies, and identifies where and how the government should focus its efforts to improve the country’s innovation capabilities.

Table of contents

  • Introduction: Korean Innovation Policy in a Time of Economic Crisis
  • Overall Assessment and Recommendations (included in English and French)
  • Performance and Framework Conditions for Innovation
  • Main Features of the Innovation System
  • Government Innovation Policy

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