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The Race to Innovation in Korea The Chaebol Titans vs The Cluster Theory INTRODUCTION South-East Asia is a region on the move With a diverse basket of nations in such close geographic proximity it is no surprise that this region is transitioning from an emerging market to an industrialized region to technological leaders more quickly than other international peers However despite the sharp learning curve toward industrialization and technological improvement not all nations in the region are progressing at the same pace So what is it that differentiates Thailand from Singapore Malaysia from Korea The core of the following analysis is an examination of why and how South Korea has risen to the top of the technological development ladder using innovation as a measure of progress and growth For the purpose of structure and comparison Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porters Diamond Model of National Advantage will be the test used to determine if Koreas innovation can be attributed to the presence of clusters FACTOR CONDITIONS Factor conditions refers to inputs used as factors of production such as labor land natural resources capital and infrastructure This sounds similar to standard economic theory but Porter argues the key factors of production or specialized factors are created not inherited According to Porter it is not of outstanding importance which factors of production a nation already has but which factors of production it can deploy efficiently within a short period of time As such specialized factors of production are skilled labor capital and infrastructure Specialized factors involve heavy and sustained investment This leads to a competitive advantage as they are more difficult to duplicate or imitate However Porter argues that a lack of resources which leads to selective disadvantages can turn out to be advantages as scarcity generates an innovative mindset Such nations are forced to innovate in order to
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