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OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Korea 2009

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This report 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. It finds that Korea has one of the highest rates of spending on R&D in the world, much of which 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.

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Évaluation générale et recommandations

En l’espace de quelques décennies, les efforts déployés par la Corée pour rattraper les principales économies mondiales ont produit des résultats exceptionnels, grâce à plusieurs vagues de modernisation du tissu industriel, qui ont permis au pays de devenir aujourd’hui un leader mondial dans certains des secteurs de très haute technologie. Le modèle de rattrapage économique de la Corée s’est longtemps caractérisé par le rôle dirigeant des pouvoirs publics, un système bancaire contrôlé par l’État et la domination du secteur industriel par les chaebol – ces grandes entreprises familiales très diversifiées. L’accumulation du capital et l’augmentation du volume de travail – rendues possibles par le taux d’investissement productif le plus fort de la zone OCDE et l’accroissement de la participation au marché du travail d’une population croissante et d’une culture laborieuse – ont été les principaux moteurs de la croissance coréenne.

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