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Education, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development


Han River
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Yong Suk Lee
Co-principle Investigator
Korea Program, APARC
Principal Investigator
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Sociology

Korea’s miraculous economic growth during the latter half of the 20th century was fueled by a well-educated and entrepreneurial population. The educated workforce enabled Korea to quickly catch-up to the technology frontiers of advanced economies. Risk-taking and ambitious entrepreneurs maximized the nation’s growth potentials by expanding to global markets. Education and entrepreneurship remain fundamental for Korea’s economic development. 

However, the nature of education and entrepreneurship needs to change and become more innovative, creative, and collaborative in today’s rapidly changing economic environment. This research initiative is to evaluate the current state of education and entrepreneurship and suggest new directions critical for the next stages of economic progress in Korea.

Understanding the determinants of entrepreneurship, and examining why entrepreneurial activity is lower among Asians are important. Yong Suk Lee and Chuck Eesley (a Stanford professor at the Department of Management Science and Engineering) explore the difference in entrepreneurship between Asians and Asian-Americans by examining Stanford alumni and their background in relation with parental entrepreneurship. Also, in a related project Lee and Eesley examine the impact of university entrepreneurship programs on promoting entrepreneurship and innovation among students. 

Lee is also working on a large-scale international comparative project with collaborators, including Prashant Loyalka (a Stanford professor at the School of Education), to assess and evaluate the quality of science and engineering education in several countries including Korea. By assessing the differences they will be able to examine the factors that can improve the quality of science and technology education as well as aspects related to creativity and innovation. Also, in a series of papers Lee has examined how the educational system that allocates students to schools can affect inequality across regions and the probability that students with different socio-economic backgrounds can access high quality tertiary education in Korea.

In addition to these interdisciplinary and collaborative projects on entrepreneurship and education, the Korea Program at Stanford engages in related policy and media outreach to positively influence entrepreneurship and education policies in Korea.