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 KAPITEL 02 / INNOVATIONSMANAGEMENT & DIGITALE VISIONEN

INNOVATIONSMANAGEMENT & DIGITALE VISIONEN

PHOTOGRAPHER // JUNG S KIM, KOREA

FROM INSPIRATION TO INNOVATION

Within a generation, South Korea has managed to transform its economy from one of the poorest in the world to one of the rich- est. At the heart of this change lies innovation.

By taking this success into account, we need to first consider some challenges:

If you’re a scientist or engineer at Samsung Electronics and you come up with some brilliant new idea, you don’t quit and start pitching your ideas to venture capitalists and set up your own firm

– you move up into management within Samsung. South Korea is squeezed between low-wage China on the one hand and more technologically advanced Japan on the oth- er so there is a sense of anxiety. The domi- nance of chaebols (family-run conglomer- ates) in the Korean economy makes it diffi- cult for small and midsize enterprises with new ideas to grow.

Making the shift from a fast follower to a cutting-edge innovation leader is difficult. It requires a fundamental change in corpo- rate strategy, workforce education and so- cietal culture. How the Korean economy fares in the medium to long-term future will depend on how the domestic challenge of low productivity is addressed. The key will be in raising domestic productivity by all firms in all industries, including in less glamorous sectors like hotels, restaurants, retail distribution, insurance, utilities and government services.

In terms of politics, taking these steps will not be a walk in the park, however. But even the longest journey begins with a sin- gle step – and for Korea to move forward it needs to start walking. It will certainly be an interesting journey to watch…

AUTHOR // EDMUND SCHÄFFER, MANAGING PARTNER, SERVICEPLAN KOREA