From Description to prescription: South Korea’s Knowledge-Sharing Project and the rendering technical of the Korean development experience

Anders Riel Müller, Jamie Doucette

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


One of the ironies of developmental state research is that while academic theories of the developmental state declined in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the popularity of the developmental state as a policy paradigm has grown significantly in the years since, particularly after the 2008 global economic downturn. From Africa to Latin American, and from Central to Southeast Asia, the developmental state is increasingly seen as an alternative to the Washington Consensus and there is deliberate effort to learn from the Korean development experience as a hallmark example of a developmental state. Thus, Korea has attempted to both stimulate and satisfy demand for knowledge of its developmental history through a range of initiatives including its Knowledge Sharing Project: a program overseen by the Korean Development Institute and Ministry of Strategy and Finance. With the participation of numerous ministries, institutes, and scholars, the KSP aims to ‘modularize’ Korea’s development experience and disseminates Korea’s ‘hands-on’ experience with late-industrialization through both bi-lateral and multilateral consultation with developing countries. This paper argues that, like the Weberian foundations on which much developmental state theory is based, the policy version of the developmental state promoted by the KSP and cognate initiatives risks conflating Korea’s developmental expertise to a value-based mentalité that obscures social-spatial processes of authoritarian social regimentation, labour subordination, and state-led mobilization that have accompanied Korean development. This problem is apparent in the KSP and affiliated policy literature that promotes several ‘hallmarks’ of the Korean developmental experience such as Park Chung-hee’s New Village Movement (Saemaul Undong) and its heavy industrialization policies. This paper argues that by framing Korean development in such a way, the KSP enables the Korean development experience to be ‘rendered technical.’ While this process allows the KSP’s narratives to travel in global policy circuits, the ideas they promote are often produced and applied in problematic and decontextualized fashion that raises questions about just how ‘alternative’ Korea’s developmental expertise might be compared to other, market-oriented forms of development.
Publikationsdato27 maj 2015
StatusUdgivet - 27 maj 2015
BegivenhedGeopolitical Economies of Development and Democratization in East Asia - University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Varighed: 26 maj 201529 maj 2015


WorkshopGeopolitical Economies of Development and Democratization in East Asia
LokationUniversity of British Columbia

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