The Emergence of Business Groups: Israel and South Korea Compared

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63 Scopus citations


This paper examines the emergence of business groups in Israel and South Korea. The paper questions how, in very different institutional contexts, similar economic organizations emerged. In contrast to the political, cultural and market perspectives, the comparative institutional analysis adopted in this research suggests that one factor alone could not explain the emergence of business groups. In Israel and South Korea, business groups emerged during the 1960s and 1970s, and there are common factors underlying their formation: state-society relations, the roles and beliefs of the elites, and the relative absence of multinational corporations in the economy. To a large extent, the chaebol are the result of an intended creation of the South Korean state, whereas the Israeli business groups are the outcome of state policies in the economic realm. In both countries, the state elite held a developmental ideology, did not rely on market forces for economic development, and had a desire for greater economic and military self-sufficiency. In addition, both states were recipients of large grants and loans from other countries, which made them less dependent on direct foreign investments. As a result, the emerging groups were protected from the intense competition of multinational corporations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-758
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Business groups
  • Comparative study
  • Institutional analysis
  • Israel
  • South Korea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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