Korean manufacturers seen as slow to innovate

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Korean manufacturers seen as slow to innovate

In an era where new products promptly get introduced one after another, innovation is a vital factor deciding the fate of any manufacturing company.

However, in terms of innovation, Korean manufacturers said in a survey that they are behind the curve.

They rated themselves to be running at only 58.9 kilometers per hour (36.6 miles per hour) when the most innovative companies would be running at 100 kilometers per hour.

The 300 local manufacturers also said the domestic manufacturing industry was far behind China, a country where most industry is heavily dominated by the central government.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry issued the results of the survey on Wednesday.

When respondents were asked which country had the most innovative companies, 42.4 percent of the respondents picked the United States, which came in first place, followed by China with 35.3 percent of votes.

Korea came in fifth with only 3.4 percent.

Among Korea’s diverse industries, the automotive market was considered the most innovative. If the most innovative car company runs at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour, respondents said Korea’s car companies ran at 65.5 kilometers per hour.

Electronics were the runner-up industry, receiving 63.8 kilometers per hour. The shipbuilding industry came in third.

Respondents said the Korean manufacturing industry is innovating at a speed of 70 percent of the rate of China. On the survey, 22.3 percent of domestic manufacturers said they thought the government was responsible for innovation, following that of the companies which took up 57.5 percent.

In fact, a respondent in the semiconductor industry said, “Korea lacks institutional support, and outdated business practices lead to much research being done only for the sake of it.”

An aircraft and auto parts manufacturer said China and India will outperform the innovation environment in Korea within four to five years.

The majority of respondents said continuous investment in innovation is necessary even in the hardest times. Forty-four percent said the most helpful policy from the government was financial support

The biggest problem of government policy is its shortsightedness, 62.3 percent of the respondents said.

A shipbuilding materials worker based in South Gyeongsang said it is hard to come up with a tangible outcome only with initial funding because any field related to shipbuilding requires a lot of time to complete the research.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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