[Excellent R&D] Promoting the Global Competence of Domestic Businesses
Professor Kim Bo-young (School of Business) & The Korea Institute of Social Economy
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The Korea Institute of Sustainable Economy (KISE) is one of the 18 surviving teams of the Social Science Korea (SSK) business, supervised by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF). Being evaluated on mainly three stages, KISE has managed to surpass the former two evaluation processes by currently focusing its research upon enhancing the global competence of domestic businesses, especially from the viewpoint of distribution systems.
The Social Science Korea (SSK) business refers to a research program funded by the NRF, which was first started in 2010 with the purpose of promoting research institutions that conduct research activities in the field of humanities and social science on an international basis. Whereas most research programs of the social science field are funded on a two to three year period, the SSK is a more long-term one which was targeted with ten years of research, developing into three stages: small, medium, and large-sized projects.
Only the teams that pass the evaluations of the NRF upon their progress on the former stages are able to move on to the projects of the later phases. With an initial 90 teams being selected out of the 500 that applied for the small-sized studies, only 45 were able to move on to the medium-sized projects. Once again, the number was halved to 20 when advancing on to the final stage, with the current surviving teams counting up to only 18.
In this sense, KISE has made great progress on not only the former two phases of research, but also its current large-sized project. Professor Kim Bo-young (School of Business), the director of KISE, explained the progress that KISE has gone through the past eight years of research since 2010.
When first starting the SSK project, KISE first focused upon an agenda that had both a social impact and practical implications. With a large emphasis being put on the Free Trade Agreements (FTA), especially upon the food industry at the time, KISE targeted their research towards the sustainable growth of ‘Food Security,’ ‘Food Safety,’ and ‘Global Branding Strategies.’ While giving a main focus upon China, as a major trade partner, KISE studied and compared the food safety management system of the two countries.
Also giving light to the distributional process of the food industry, KISE conducted research on the strategies of marketing and positioning that the domestic businesses should implement when exporting food. KISE studied the actual products of Korea and China, and the strategies that would help them gain competence in the global market and maintain a global brand image. With the studies mainly focused upon China, during this stage, Kim and her team formed a global network with Chinese research institutions, while holding various symposiums on the subject.
Moving on to the medium-sized project in 2013, KISE targeted their focus more to the open global market in order to meet the goals of sustainable development. During this stage, KISE also collaborated with the Climate Change Center of Konkuk University, in order to study the steady supply and growth of food during extreme weather conditions. The studies also became more diversified with focusing on mainly four points within the global market.
With health products gaining more popularity in the global markets and the industry also fiercely enhancing, KISE studied how Korean health products, such as ‘Ginseng,’ should promote themselves within this particular market. Unlike the small-sized stage, the comparatives were extended from China to other countries including the U.S., Europe, and Japan. The international consuming patterns and how Korean industries should position themselves within such global trends was also a main study of this stage.
Risk communication models were also researched and compared on a global basis. With various countries all having their own model, the advantages and disadvantages of each model were given a thorough research. Cooperation with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MOFD) was made in order to find the ideal model of handling food-related crisis. The last of the four main points, the actual infrastructure of the distribution process, was not put upon full focus during the medium phase, but was given more light in the later large-sized project.
Large-sized project (Current)
When entering the large-sized phase in 2016, the distribution system went through a great change under the fourth industrial revolution. For this reason, the infrastructure of the distribution process, from the former stage, became the main research in this large phase. With offline and online channels becoming united, the distribution system is going through an innovative process in which the consuming patterns are also greatly changing. Being in an early stage of adaption of such systems, KISE targeted its research towards how both consumers and industries would react to this major change.
How this innovative change is being accepted in other comparative countries was a start of this particular research. Collaborating with the Japanese company ‘MUJI’ and having access to their big data on consumption patterns, KISE is further targeting their research beyond the food industry into other various consumer goods and how the domestic industries should position themselves in this rapidly changing system.
With the access of big data allowing KISE to extend and deepen their research, there are still some remaining goals of the institution. According to Kim, studying the practical implications that the innovative distribution system has upon market competence, the rapidly changing consumer patterns, and the global strategies that domestic businesses should implement within this new system to maintain their global competence and brand image are the main remaining tasks that KISE should conclude during this large stage.
With around two years left for the SSK project, Kim asserted that this does not designate an end to the current research that KISE is conducting. Although the SSK project did indicate a start for KISE, it does not necessarily correspond to an end. Kim also added that there will be further tasks and research that she and KISE should conduct in helping promote the global competence of domestic businesses, especially in the forms of sustainable growth.
Choi Seo-yong firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Park Guen-hyung
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