State-civil society synergy and cooptation: The case of the minority shareholder movement in Korea

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Abstract

In this essay, we argue that state-civil society synergy is a powerful driving force for economic change. Only the combination of public policies and civil society engagement ensure an efficient implementation of reforms. We illustrate this argument with the case of the politically motivated minority shareholder movement that was a crucial factor in the reform of large business conglomerates in Korea since the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis. However, we also found that the results of civil society activity in the minority shareholder movement were mixed. The movement was successful where interest overlapped with profit-oriented shareholders, but failed in cases wherein broader political goals and comprehensive structural reforms were envisioned. The originally political minority shareholder movement became depoliticized and was successively co-opted by the dynamics of shareholder capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-367
Number of pages29
JournalKorea Observer
Volume39
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Keywords

  • Chaebol
  • Civil society
  • Economic reform
  • Korea
  • Shareholder capitalism
  • Shareholder rights

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