[Outlook]Leading the world

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[Outlook]Leading the world

As globalization progresses, a need for universal standards has emerged. If a football arena in Germany is different from one in Korea, players and fans will be confused. To prevent this, we need global standards. When different countries build football arenas or other common venues, they need to follow a global standard for sizes and shapes.
Global standards are agreements and rules. However, it isn’t easy to set them. In the wild, animals follow the rules that strong animals set, but life is not always that simple on the global stage.
In some situations, the standards of the United States or the European Union could become global, and for others, Korean standards could become the norm.
Korea has earned the status of setting global standards in many fields. For instance, the world’s top three shipbuilders are Korean companies, so they can set global standards in that industry.
Korea is the fourth country to possess the technology for high-speed trains.
As for international airports, the Amsterdam Schipol Airport was regarded as an international standard until recently. Singapore’s Changi International Airport and Japan’s Narita International Airport were built using the Dutch airport as a model.
But by the time Korea built Incheon International Airport, aircrafts had become larger and technology had advanced.
So architects referred to both O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois in the United States, and Schipol Airport. Recently, our Incheon Airport was selected as the world’s best in terms of services, so we now set the standard for managing airports.
For highways, the ones in America are the world’s best because they stretch across vast areas. Can we build highways in Korea in the same way they are built in the United States? The answer might be no. Because there are many mountains and tunnels in Korea, we need to design new highways suitable for our topography and climate.
There are some global standards that we need to follow as they are, while we need to adjust others to make them suitable for us. In some other fields, we need to establish new standards.
Following foreign standards just because they are made by the world’s most powerful country is like wearing someone else’s clothes that do not fit at all.
Many countries are now working hard to be the ones to set global standards. We should do the same.
But many seem to be mistaken about standards in the structure and management of companies and the development of countries. They say that the U.S. models are best because the global economy is led by America.
Professor Suzanne Berger and 12 other professors and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology interviewed the staff of the world’s top 500 companies over five years. According to the study, global competition increases diversity among countries. In practice, many Korean companies have passed the stage of copying foreign models and are now at the stage of overtaking them with their unique management styles.
It is not that there is only one answer for economic development. It is wrong to do exactly the same as a certain advanced country just because the country sets global standards.
The competitive countries in the world, such as Singapore and the United States, have a good understanding of the market economy and have created their own models. We must also do this.
First, we need to abandon regulations and make it easy for companies to do business in our country in order to make our companies competitive on the global stage.
Second, we need to make our government small yet competitive by global standards. Third, we need to make sure people’s incomes and properties increase.
Professor Gary Becker from the University of Chicago said he hoped that Korea pursues an economy free of regulations. This is the best way to become a country that sets global standards.

*The writer is a professor emeritus at Seoul National University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Song Byung-nak
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