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Examination of the Micro Foundation of the Korean Economic Development using a...

Examination of the Micro Foundation of the Korean Economic Development using a Cognitive-Motivational Approach

IM DONG KYUN | Seoul National University


This study takes a social-psychological perspective and analyzes the micro foundation of Korea’s high economic growth during the industrialization period. Existing cultural approaches that tried to explain the economic development of Korea and other East Asian societies highlighted the roles of Confucianism or Asian Values. Although such approaches have received a lot of criticisms an alternative explanation has not been successfully presented. This study proposes a cognitive-motivational model to explain the micro-dynamics of economic growth in Korea in a more analytic and rigorous way. In so doing, it utilizes the discussions of cultural sociology, social psychology, and cognitive anthropology. The socialpsychological experiences and conditions that have been the basis of Korea’s economic growth are explained by dividing the determining factors into cognitive and motivational components. The paper argues that socio-ecological factors contributed to the cognitive conditions and socio-economic factors contributed to the motivational conditions; both conditions jointly created the social psychological engine for economic growth in the late 20th century South Korea.


Confucian capitalism, East Asian economic development, motivational readiness, cognitive-motivational mechanism, socio-ecological perspective

Discourse 201

2022, vol.25, no.3, 통권 82호 pp. 103-133 (31 pages)

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