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Betting on BiotechInnovation and the Limits of Asia's Developmental State$
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Joseph Wong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450327

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450327.001.0001

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From Mitigating Risk to Managing Uncertainty

From Mitigating Risk to Managing Uncertainty

(p.16) Chapter 1 From Mitigating Risk to Managing Uncertainty
Betting on Biotech

Joseph Wong

Cornell University Press

This chapter proposes a more fundamental conceptual distinction between risk and uncertainty to show how decision makers make political economic bets and how they rationalize them in the face of two different modes of industrial upgrading, each with its own set of challenges. Focusing on the processes of growing biotech industries in Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, the chapter argues that Asia's postwar political economy was characterized by state intervention in the economy for the purposes of mitigating the risks of industrial upgrading. It also examines how the developmental state, despite failing to guarantee industrial success, demonstrated the capacity to reduce the risks of upgrading and technological “catch-up.” Finally, it contends that the strategy of mitigating risk is less effective when it comes to cutting-edge biotech. The biotech industry is currently facing tremendous technological, economic, and long-term uncertainty that decision makers cannot easily manage.

Keywords:   risk, uncertainty, industrial upgrading, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, political economy, developmental state, mitigating risk, biotech industry

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