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Abstract

After a brief comparison of data on small and medium-sized enterprises in the four Asian newly industrialized economies (Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan), this paper deals with the existing or potential role of small firms in Korea's industrialization process; it reviews Korea's industrial heritage up to the post-Korean war period, then concentrates on the last three decades of very rapid industrial development and on the numerous issues facing the Korean economy today, especially in the field of big versus smallmedium scale business. This particular issue is again at the centre of policy changes, debates and controversies since the beginning of the 1990's. The major arguments of this paper can be summarized as follows: Very little is yet known about the history of Korean small entrepreneurship before World War Ii and how it might have affected later industrialization process after the Korean war. It seems that little indigenous industrial expertise was accumulated before and during colonial rule, this last period being dominated by the Japanese in a few big key industries, the very start of big scale business in Korea.

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