ABSTRACT

The historical evolution of large-scale capitalist business entities is a frequently canvassed topic of research across a variety of related disciplines, including economics, business history, and management. Most research, however, has focused on multinational enterprises in the West and Japan.2

Relatively little attention has been paid to these enterprises in the newly emergent capitalist economies of Eastern Asia, especially South Korea.3

This is surprising, given the dominant role of family-controlled conglomerates, the chaebo˘l, in the course of Korea’s rapid industrialization, and the position of Korea in the world economy.4 In Chapter 3, Paul Kuznets highlighted the chaebo˘l as one of the significant institutions of Korean capitalism which helped propel the country’s economic and societal transformation. The chaebo˘l are also integral to our effort to uncover the dynamics of capitalist modernity in contemporary Korea. In this chapter we take a case study approach to understanding the historical trajectory of a large Korean conglomerate, the Hyundai Business Group, focusing in particular upon its relationship to the Korean state, and the unique character of its managerial organization within the capitalist world after 1945.