Science and Technology
News Type

The world is “graying” at an unprecedented rate. According to the UN’s World Population Prospects 2019, the number of persons over the age of 65 is growing the fastest and expected to more than double by 2050, then triple in another 50 years’ time.

Some Asian countries in particular, plagued by population aging, declining fertility, and gender imbalance, are facing a grim outlook for a demographic crisis. In Japan, one in five people is now 70 or older, birthrate has dropped to a historic level, and the population declined by more than a quarter of a million last year. Meanwhile, South Korea is aging more quickly than any other developed country: with seniors on the verge of making up 14% of the population, the country is on the cusp of becoming an “aged society.” The potential impact of population aging on the labor market and the fiscal pressures on the public systems of healthcare, pensions, and social protection schemes for older adults are some of the many problems that these and other countries must tackle.

Against this background, Shorenstein APARC recently held the third annual gathering of the Stanford Asia-Pacific Innovation project, a Center-led initiative that produces academic and policy-relevant research to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in East Asia. Held in Chuncheon, South Korea and organized jointly with Hallym University’s Institute for Communication Arts and Technology, this year’s conference focused on the intersection of aging, technological development, and innovation in the region.

Gi-Wook Shin stans at a podium

(Gi-Wook Shin)

APARC Director Gi-Wook Shin opened the two-day session, introducing the conference’s themes. “What policies can promote innovation and entrepreneurship in aging populations?” Shin asked. “What opportunities do new technologies offer for addressing challenges posed by East Asia’s demographic shifts, and what are the threats involved in the adoption of these new technologies?”

Joon-Shik Park, vice president of the Office of Vision and Cooperation at Hallym University,  the conference host, noted that “East Asian countries are the most important testbeds on issues related to aging and innovation,” and that sharing meaningful research and implications from the region “will provide invaluable insights for all the societies around us.”

 Yong Suk Lee , Junichi Yamanoi , Young-Bum Kim, and Jiyoung Liu seated at a table

(From left to right, Yong Suk Lee , Junichi Yamanoi , Young-Bum Kim, and Jiyoung Liu)

Family Business Succession

Demographic forces and population aging at the macro level are altering family structures and assumptions at the micro level. For example, Junichi Yamanoi of Waseda University presented a study that examined how expectations around managerial succession at family firms had a significant impact on a firm’s long-term investments.

The study surveyed over 15,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The participants were initially asked about their firm’s attributes, CEO demographics, and succession expectations. More than a year later (a time lag that eliminated reverse causality), a sampling of respondents was then asked about their current long-term investments (e.g., R&D, new product development, and internationalization activities).

Yamanoi and his coauthors found that, when a family business’ CEO was confident that a successor would follow, their firm was more likely to engage in long-term investment. Additionally, a CEO’s expectations that the successor would be someone other than their child resulted in an even greater likelihood of long-term investment.

As part of its policy propositions, the study recommends that government agencies and SME officers eager to increase investments by SMEs introduce external candidates to such firms. Moreover, family CEOs should be cautioned against investment decisions that are too short-term in orientation, as, due to inherent aversion to losses of socioemotional wealth for the family, they may unconsciously avoid long-term investments.

Javier Miranda presents at table

(Javier Miranda)

Rethinking Age and Entrepreneurship

At a luncheon keynote address, Javier Miranda, principal economist at the U.S. Census Bureau,  shared insights into the correlations between age and high-growth entrepreneurship, considering when in life people start firms and when they start the most successful firms.

Miranda acknowledged that youth is often perceived as being crucial to entrepreneurial success, referring to Mark Zuckerberg’s dictum, “Young people are just smarter.” Venture capitalist (VC) activity seems to support this notion, said Miranda, citing a sample of 35 VC-backed “unicorns” that resulted in a mean founder age of 31. He explained that VCs' high regard of young entrepreneurs may be attributed to a belief in young people's greater deductive reasoning, transformative thinking, and higher energy, optimism, and confidence.

But does the statistical evidence support such a view? It would seem not. Miranda’s data showed that the mean age for founders of any type of firm is 41.9. Furthermore, the mean age for founders of the most successful firms (those ready for Initial Public Offering market) was 45, and a founder at age 50 was approximately twice as likely to experience successful exit or high growth compared to a founder 20 years their junior.

In fact, dependent on the starting of a firm, the probability of a founder’s success peaked in the age range of 45-59. Pointing directly to entrepreneurs like Jobs and Bezos, Miranda conceded that even extremely talented people, who may be talented enough to succeed when young, peaked in middle age.

The results of Miranda’s study seem at odds with VC attraction to younger entrepreneurs. Experience, Miranda concluded, appeared to overwhelm any potential age advantage, but more research was needed to unpack the underlying predictors of entrepreneurial success over one’s life cycle.

Role of Technology in an Aging Populace

Day two of the conference focused on the promising role technology may play as populations age. APARC Research Scholar Kenji Kushida detailed both the current and impending problems Japan faces as its population both ages and shrinks in size, and the solutions possible through technological advancement like robotics, AI, and wearable devices.

For example, Japan’s demographic shift has had a double knock-on effect on agriculture, with the percentage of farm workers age 65 or older steadily rising over the last five years and the total cultivated agricultural land decreasing each passing year. Kushida described how ICT-enabled bulldozers allow farm owners to more precisely flatten the ground in rice paddies, resulting in both greater yields and cost savings as much as 40%.

Healthcare is another significant area of concern in Japan, as healthcare costs for people over 65 are four times that of younger people and medical costs as a proportion of GDP have been increasing sharply, especially in rural areas. Shortage of physicians and diagnostic technicians is another challenge. Kushida gave an example of a technology healthcare resource that enables clinics and hospitals to upload patient medical images which are then diagnosed by medical doctors affiliated with the tool's startup developer. This low-cost solution allows smaller, rural hospitals to tap into a larger network of physicians and specialists online.

While Japan’s technological trajectory has been driven primarily by the private sector, Kushida pointed out the important role played by government actors. Specifically, within the “Abenomics” reforms of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, several key performance indicators include support for digitizing medical records, adoption of robotics in nursing care, and extending “healthy” life expectancy.

Edited volumes collecting the papers from the annual Stanford Asia-Pacific Innovation conferences are forthcoming. These will serve as valuable references for scholars and policymakers. The first conference was held at Stanford in 2017, and examined the industrial organization of businesses and innovation clusters and how such environments affect entrepreneurship. The second conference, held in September of 2018 in Beijing, analyzed the impact of public education and financial policies pursued by East Asian countries to promote entrepreneurship.

Presenters gathered on stage



All News button
616 Serra StreetEncina Hall E301Stanford, CA94305-6055

Dr. Gilhong Kim joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center for the 2018 year as visiting scholar.  He currently serves as the Senior Director and Chief Sector Officer of the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department at the Asian Development Bank.  He will be conducting research on technological development and impact in the Asia-Pacific.

Visiting Scholar at APARC

South Korea has relied on its export-oriented development model to become an economic powerhouse, but has now reached the limits of this model. Indeed, Korea’s phenomenal growth has incubated the seeds of its own destruction. Learning from the Korean developmental experience, China has adopted key elements of the Korean development model and has become a potent competitor in electronics and the heavy industries. Meanwhile, the organizational and institutional legacies of late industrialization have constrained Korean efforts to move into technology entrepreneurship and the service sector. These strategic challenges are compounded by a demographic bomb, as social development has led to collapsing birthrates in Korea, much like other developed countries in Europe and Asia. Within the next few years, the Korean workforce will start diminishing in size and aging rapidly, straining the country’s resources and curtailing its growth. In this seminar, Joon Nak Choi, 2015-16 Koret Fellow at Stanford's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Reserach Center, will discuss innovations in business strategy, educational policy and social structure that are directly relevant to these problems, and that would alleviate or perhaps even reverse Korea’s economic malaise.

joon nak choi 7 cropped
A Stanford graduate and sociologist by training, Choi is an assistant professor of management at the School of Business and Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His research and teaching areas include economic development, social networks, organizational theory, and global and transnational sociology, within the Korean context. He coauthored Global Talent: Skilled Labor as Social Capital in Korea (Stanford University Press, 2015).

This public event is made possible through the generous support of the Koret Foundation.

Shorenstein APARC
Encina Hall
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-6055


Joon Nak Choi is the 2015-2016 Koret Fellow in the Korea Program at Stanford University's Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC). A sociologist by training, Choi is an assistant professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His research and teaching areas include economic development, social networks, organizational theory, and global and transnational sociology, within the Korean context.

Choi, a Stanford graduate, has worked jointly with professor Gi-Wook Shin to analyze the transnational bridges linking Asia and the United States. The research project explores how economic development links to foreign skilled workers and diaspora communities.

Most recently, Choi coauthored Global Talent: Skilled Labor as Social Capital in Korea with Shin, who is also the director of the Korea Program. From 2010-11, Choi developed the manuscript while he was a William Perry postdoctoral fellow at Shorenstein APARC.

During his fellowship, Choi will study the challenges of diversity in South Korea and teach a class for Stanford students. Choi’s research will buttress efforts to understand the shifting social and economic patterns in Korea, a now democratic nation seeking to join the ranks of the world’s most advanced countries.
Supported by the Koret Foundation, the Koret Fellowship brings leading professionals to Stanford to conduct research on contemporary Korean affairs with the broad aim of strengthening ties between the United States and Korea. The fellowship has expanded its focus to include social, cultural and educational issues in Korea, and aims to identify young promising scholars working on these areas.


2015-2016 Koret Fellow
Visiting Scholar
<i>2015-16 Koret Fellow, Shorenstein APARC, Stanford University</i>
News Type

A recent review published in International Migration Review (IMR) lauded “Global Talent: Skilled Labor as Social Capital in Korea,” by Stanford professor Gi-Wook Shin and Joon Nak Choi. IMR reviewer Keumjae Park said the book makes an important contribution to the literature on foreign skilled workers and the problems that countries like South Korea face with demographic and economic change.

Park said the book “offers provocative policy questions” about how South Korea can encourage the development of social and cultural ties in its highly skilled labor markets, which in turn, support local and transnational markets through spread of information, innovation and trust.

Park also highlights the book’s approachability, saying it “offers theoretical lessons for general research” while it “invites attention of policy makers and business strategists.”

“Global Talent” is a part of Korea’s Global Talent, an ongoing research project at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. The project analyzes the potential benefits of transnational bridges between South Korea and the United States, and aims to provide insights that could be applied to other Asian countries.

Read the full review below and on the IMR website.

All News button

Global Talent seeks to examine the utility of skilled foreigners beyond their human capital value by focusing on their social capital potential, especially their role as transnational bridges between host and home countries. Gi-Wook Shin (Stanford University) and Joon Nak Choi (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) build on an emerging stream of research that conceptualizes global labor mobility as a positive-sum game in which countries and businesses benefit from building ties across geographic space, rather than the zero-sum game implied by the "global war for talent" and "brain drain" metaphors.

"Advanced economies like Korea face a growing mismatch between low birth rates and increasing demand for skilled labor. Shin and Choi use original, comprehensive data and a global outlook to provide careful, accessible and persuasive analysis. Their prescriptions for Korea and other economies challenged by high-level labor shortages will amply reward readers of this landmark study."  —Mark Granovetter, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University

The book empirically demonstrates its thesis by examination of the case of Korea: a state archetypical of those that have been embracing economic globalization while facing a demographic crisis—and one where the dominant narrative on the recruitment of skilled foreigners is largely negative. It reveals the unique benefits that foreign students and professionals can provide to Korea, by enhancing Korean firms' competitiveness in the global marketplace and by generating new jobs for Korean citizens rather than taking them away. As this research and its key findings are relevant to other advanced societies that seek to utilize skilled foreigners for economic development, the arguments made in this book offer insights that extend well beyond the Korean experience.

Media coverage related to the research project:  

Dong-A Ilbo, January 27, 2016

Interiew with Arirang TV, March 10, 2016 (Upfront Ep101 - "Significance of attacting global talent," interview with Arirang)

All Publications button
Publication Type
Publication Date
Journal Publisher
Stanford University Press
Gi-Wook Shin
Gi-Wook Shin
Joon Nak Choi
News Type

Sony Pictures Entertainment was set to release a satirical comedy, “The Interview,” in late 2014, but a cyberattack hit the organization that leaked corporate information, leading the company to initially pull the film and opening up a string of theories over who was behind the attack and how to respond.

Speculation began to mount as a clearer picture of the unprecedented hacking, both comprehensive and large in size, began to emerge. The breach is thought to be retribution for Sony’s production of the film, which carries a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Then, a threat was directed at movie theaters and moviegoers planning to screen and see “The Interview.” The message warned those against involvement ahead of the film’s Dec. 25 opening, indicating a “bitter fate” and alluding to the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

An unknown group, The Guardians of Peace “GOP,” claimed responsibility for the cyberattack. Media and those familiar with North Korea began to point blame on the country, which had already publicly condemned the film last June and has a history of cybercrime. Responding to accusations, top North Korean leadership rejected any involvement in the attack.

rsd14 078 0248a

The White House responded as Sony canceled the film’s New York premiere and said it would discontinue distribution. Following his year-end press conference, President Barack Obama condemned the hacking, citing the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s conclusion that North Korea was behind the attack. The President said the United States would respond “proportionally,” and on Jan. 2, signed an Executive Order that put into action a series of sanctions imposed by the Department of the Treasury.

David Straub, a Korea expert at Stanford University, answered questions about the Sony hacking and its policy implications for the United States and North-South Korean relations. Straub is the associate director of the Korea Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. He formerly served as the State Department’s Korean affairs director.

What do we know about the Sony hacking? Who’s responsible?

Based on many types of evidence, including confidential information, U.S. government officials appear to be quite confident that North Korea did in fact conduct this operation. There’s still some disagreement in the media and among tech experts over who is responsible. They’ve cited a number of reasons but the main one is that the FBI’s official statement attributing the attack to North Korea provided evidence that they believe is far from conclusive. I myself am not a technical expert, but based upon my following North Korea for many years – the attack strikes me as being very likely to have been a North Korean operation. The FBI statement noted that the Sony attack is similar to an attack that the North Koreans conducted against South Korean banks and media outlets in March 2013. In that attack, many South Korean banks had their hard drives completely wiped clean. It was a hugely destructive attack and very similar to what happened to Sony.

Does North Korea’s response to the Sony hack coincide with past behavior?

In addition to the 2013 South Korean bank cyberattack, the North Koreans apparently sank a South Korean naval vessel in 2010, killing 46 sailors. In both instances, the North Koreans denied that they did it, expressed outrage over being accused, demanded that the South Koreans produce proof, said that they could prove that they didn’t do it, and then requested that the South Koreans conduct a joint investigation. These same demands are being made in response to the U.S. blaming Pyongyang for the Sony cyberattack. It couldn’t be more similar. More generally, the North Korean regime is very calculating. They know they can’t win an outright military confrontation with South Korea, much less the United States, so what they do is try to find a weak link and go after it in a way in which they have plausible deniability – a situation where it’s very difficult for the attacked party to prove who did it.

Describe North Korea’s hacking capabilities.

North Korea is a very secretive country, so it’s hard to be completely certain of their cyber capabilities. However, according to many accounts, the North Korean government has established professional hacking schools and units over the years, resulting in hundreds if not thousands of trained hackers. North Korea has engaged in a number of attacks in the past, the most prominent one was the attack on South Korean banks in March 2013. But also, a few years ago, North Korea conducted less sophisticated attacks on major U.S. government websites.

Why would they conduct an attack?

The North Koreans appear to have both the capability and the motivation to attack Sony. The nation’s entire political system rests on a cult of personality – now a cult of family, actually – that began with the founder of the regime, Kim Il-sung, and extends to his grandson today, leader Kim Jong-un, who has been in power since Dec. 2011. It’s the only thing holding the political system together at this point. The cult of personality is so strong that any direct criticism of the top leader is something that North Koreans will compete among each other to reject. From this standpoint, it seems very likely that they would feel they had to prevent the showing of a movie that features an assassination of Kim Jong-un. And, the hackers had plenty of time to prepare for and implement the attack because everyone knew well ahead of when the movie would be released.

The United States placed new financial sanctions on North Korea. What impact will the sanctions have?

President Obama made it clear that the U.S. government would respond at a time, in a place, and in a manner of its own choosing. Not all measures taken would be made public. So far, the first publically announced measure was the President’s Executive Order on Jan. 2 imposing additional sanctions on a number of North Korean agencies and officials. This in itself is unlikely to have major consequences because most of those entities were already sanctioned. But, the Executive Order states that the sanctions are being implemented not only because of the cyberattack against Sony, but more generally because of North Korea’s actions and policies, including its serious human rights abuses. So in a sense, the North Koreans got the United States to expand its reasons for sanctioning them.


President Obama addresses the Sony hacking, saying the United States will "respond proportionally," at his year-end press briefing on Dec. 19.

President Obama addresses the Sony hacking at his year-end press briefing on Dec. 19. Photo credit:


What other steps will the United States likely take?

President Obama left open the possibility that North Korea might be returned to the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list, from which the nation was removed in 2008. I think it was a mistake to remove North Korea from that list in the first place. It was done to promote progress on the nuclear talks, which eventually failed, and ignored a number of terroristic actions that North Korea has committed in recent years. Another possibility, which is being pushed by Republicans in Congress, is to increase financial sanctions that mirror the type that were successfully implemented in Iran.

How will the U.S. response influence cybersecurity policy going forward?

The attack on Sony is a huge wakeup call to American businesses, and even to the U.S. government. It’s the first attack of this size on a company located in the United States. It got tremendous profile in the media and the President has been personally engaged in responding. Nearly everyone has heard about it, so U.S. companies are now going to be focused much more on cybersecurity because it has exposed some potential vulnerabilities – a “if North Korea can do it, presumably others can too” mentality. Moreover, if an attack can be executed on a film company, it could also be done to other businesses and even to elements of U.S. critical infrastructure.

How do you view North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s possible offer to meet with South Korean leadership this year?

Kim Jong-un said that he was open to the possibility of a summit with South Korea in his annual New Year’s address, although he made no specific proposal. He made clear that the summit would be conditional on actions to be taken in advance by South Korea. Among these, Kim demanded ending U.S.-South Korean military exercises and halting the flow of propaganda-filled balloons sent over the border into the North by non-governmental activist groups in the South. Moreover, North Korea has a history of expanding its conditions later, without any warning. So, I think one has to be skeptical. The signal is unfortunately less likely to be a sincere effort toward real, sustained dialogue, and more likely to be a North Korean propaganda effort devised to confuse, divert and divide international public opinion. That said, South Korea has acted entirely appropriately in welcoming the signal and reiterating its own offer of high-level talks. Let’s hope for the best.

David Straub also participated in an interview with Public Radio International on Jan. 1 about the prospect for North-South talks, the audio can be accessed on the PRI website.

All News button
Gi-Wook Shin
News Type

The city of Cupertino, California, is only about 15km from Stanford University, where I teach and live. It is home to the headquarters of Apple, a global leader in the computer and smartphone industries. It is also home to many Indian and Chinese engineers who are essential to Silicon Valley's technological innovation. One can easily find a variety of Asian restaurants and shops along the palm tree-lined streets -- an interesting Californian scene with a distinctly Asian flavor.

Many Asians -- businesspeople, officials and experts -- visit Silicon Valley hoping to unlock its secrets, to learn why it is such a hotbed of innovation. One known "secret" here, often overlooked by Asian visitors, is the importance of cultural diversity. More than half of the area's startups, including Intel, Yahoo, eBay and Google, were established by immigrants, and these companies owe much of their success to the contributions of Chinese and Indian engineers. Cultural diversity can be found throughout the schools, stores and streets, as well as the enterprises, there.

In Israel, too

The circumstances are quite similar in Israel, another economy known for technological innovation. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Israel admitted about 850,000 immigrants. More than 40 percent of the new arrivals were college professors, scientists and engineers, many of whom had abundant experience in research and development. These people played a critical role in promoting economic development and scientific and technological innovation in Israel. Many languages besides Hebrew can be heard on the streets of Tel Aviv, one of the country's largest cities.

It is no accident that Silicon Valley and Israel have become global high-tech centers. They opened their doors to a wide range of talented immigrants. Above all, an atypical sociocultural ecosystem -- a culture that respects and promotes the value of diversity -- is alive in both places.

In the United States, diversity is a key criterion in college admissions and faculty recruitment. Although "affirmative action" has disappeared in many parts of the country, diversity has come to play a key role in American university policies. Most American colleges, including Stanford, have a "diversity office" to promote diversity among students, faculty and staff. At Stanford, white students constitute less than 40 percent of the student body, and almost a quarter of the faculty come from minority groups. Similarly, only five of the 16 staff members at our Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center are Caucasian, with the rest from ethnic and national minorities.

 The same can be said of leading American corporations, many of which have institutionalized "diversity management" to capitalize on the range of individual differences and talents to increase organizational effectiveness. Of course, basic knowledge and skills are prerequisites. But Americans seem to firmly believe that having a variety of backgrounds and experiences can help hatch new ideas and innovative technologies. Perhaps this is why they say that culture accounts for 90 percent of the innovation in products from Silicon Valley, with technology claiming only 10 percent.

The power of diversity

Scott E. Page, professor of complex systems, political science and economics at the University of Michigan, shows in his book "The Difference" how "the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools, and societies." In his view, collections of people with diverse perspectives and heuristics outperform collections of people who rely on homogeneous ones, and the key to optimizing efficiency in a group is diversity. In this work, Page pays particular attention to the importance of "identity diversity," that is, differences in race, ethnicity, gender, social status and the like.

To be sure, Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea are different from settler societies such as the U.S. With the influx of foreigners, however, even such ethnically homogeneous Asian societies are becoming multiethnic. In addition to unskilled labor and foreign brides, the number of overseas students and professors is rising at Japanese and South Korean universities, while Japanese and South Korean companies are actively hiring foreign professionals. Both countries are opening their doors to foreigners, though in limited numbers, and have made multiculturalism a key policy objective.

Still, they fall far short of recognizing the value of diversity. While Japanese and South Korean institutes of higher learning have been trying to attract more foreign students, they have been doing so mainly to make up for the declining student population at home and because university ranking agencies use the ratio of foreign students and professors as a key yardstick for measuring internationalization. The approaches of these two countries to multiculturalism are also largely focused on assimilating foreigners into their own cultures and systems. People from abroad are seldom accepted as "permanent" members of their societies or regarded as valuable assets. Japan and South Korea may have become multiethnic, but they are not multicultural.

One of the biggest challenges facing foreign residents in Japan and South Korea is the lack of understanding of their religious and cultural beliefs. Indian engineers working in South Korea complain of the poor acceptance of Indians by the local population, and of an especially poor understanding of their religion and culture. Foreign professors teaching at Japanese universities tell me they live as "foreigners," never accepted into the "inner" circles. It is unlikely that these talented people would like to work long term for universities and enterprises that are unable to embrace differences in skin color and culture. Under these circumstances, even if some foreign professionals happen to be hired, they may not be able to realize the full potential of their abilities, let alone bring about innovation.

All these people with different ethnic and national backgrounds should no longer be regarded simply as "temporary" residents to fill particular needs. Rather, by promoting the cultural diversity of Japanese and South Korean society, they should be viewed as important assets and potential sources of innovation. It is an urgent but difficult task to institutionalize the value of diversity in societies long accustomed to the notion of a single-race nation.

Born on campuses

A country's global competitiveness can hardly be improved if its society is reluctant to respect differences and understand other groups. Universities, in particular, should help their students experience diversity through the regular curriculum and extracurricular activities. Foreign students can serve as excellent resources for promoting diversity. Universities are ideal settings for various groups of students to meet, generate new ideas and interact with one another. It is no accident that many of the innovative ideas associated with Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook were all born on American university campuses, where diversity is embraced.

Empirical research should be carried out to examine how cultural diversity can bring about technological innovation in Japanese and South Korean society. Based on such studies, governments and private enterprises should take into account diversity in personnel hiring, training, management and evaluation. These same institutions should also systematically work to create and support an organizational culture that values diversity.

Could those Indian and Chinese engineers working in Silicon Valley have brought about the same kind of technological innovation if they had remained in their own countries? Could they accomplish the same feat in Japan and South Korea? How can Asian countries create the kind of ecosystem necessary for promoting a flexible culture of accommodating a broad spectrum of talents? We first need to reflect deeply on these questions before trying to emulate the success of Silicon Valley.


Shin recently coauthored the paper, "Embracing Diversity in Higher Education: Comparing Discourses in the U.S., Europe, and Asia" with Yonsei University Professor Rennie J. Moon. It is one outcome of their research project, Diversity and Tolerance in Korea and Asia. This Nikkei Asian Review article was originally carried on Nov. 20 and reposted with permission.

All News button
Former SK Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Yong Suk Lee was the SK Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Deputy Director of the Korea Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. He served in these roles until June 2021.

Lee’s main fields of research are labor economics, technology and entrepreneurship, and urban economics. Some of the issues he has studied include technology and labor markets, entrepreneurship and economic growth, entrepreneurship education, and education and inequality. He is also interested in both the North and South Korean economy and has examined how economic sanctions affect economic activity in North Korea, and how management practices and education policy affect inequality in South Korea. His current research focuses on how the new wave of digital technologies, such as robotics and artificial intelligence affect labor, education, entrepreneurship, and productivity.

His research has been published in both economics and management journals including the Journal of Urban Economics, Journal of Economic Geography, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Health Economics, and Labour Economics. Lee also regularly contributes to policy reports and opinion pieces on contemporary issues surrounding both North and South Korea.

Prior to joining Stanford, Lee was an assistant professor of economics at Williams College in Massachusetts. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Brown University, a Master of Public Policy from Duke University, and a Bachelor's degree and master's degree in architecture from Seoul National University. Lee also worked as a real estate development consultant and architecture designer as he transitioned from architecture to economics.

While at APARC, Dr. Lee led and participated in several research projects, including Stanford-Asia Pacific Innovation; Digital Technologies and the Labor Market; Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Economic Development; The Impact of Robotics on Nursing Home Care in Japan; Education and Development in the Digital Economy; and New Media and Political Economy.

Former Deputy Director of the Korea Program at Shorenstein APARC
Shorenstein APARCStanford UniversityEncina Hall E301Stanford,  CA  94305-6055
(650) 723-6530
Visiting Scholar

Kyeongsik Cho joins the Shorenstein APARC during the 2014-2015 academic year from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) in Korea where he serves as a director general. His research interests encompass how the US is currently solving national issues that involve slow growth, unemployment and how scientific technologies and ICT are used in solving those problems. Kyeongsik Cho holds an MS in finance from the Michigan State University, and a BA in Business Administration from the Korea University.

A central focus of the research efforts at Shorenstein APARC is to analyze the bridges linking Asia and the United States. As the Asian diaspora continues to grow in America and across the world, new possibilities have emerged for migrants who become integrated into their host societies while remaining engaged with their home societies. Such trans-migration creates new innovation and trade opportunities for both Asia and the United States, as a positive-sum game where both sides benefit.

Subscribe to Science and Technology