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By Seung-Il Jeong (auth.)

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Extra info for Crisis and Restructuring in East Asia: The Case of the Korean Chaebol and the Automotive Industry

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Like agency theory, transaction cost theory as proposed by Coase (1937) and Williamson (1975, 1985) also focuses on informational asymmetry and the resulting information costs. The difference is only that, while the former is concerned with the asymmetric information involved in designing contractual relations between principals and agents, the latter focuses on the information costs (transaction costs) involved in transaction. Transaction cost theory has more relevance to explanations of the meaning of differences among firms because it tries to understand the Introduction 17 asset-specificity that incorporates firms’ investment in facilities and skills (Williamson 1985).

During 1993–7, the five crisis economies had experienced rapid increases in domestic bank lending to the private sector in amounts exceeding by 50 per cent or more the level observed in 1992. In contrast, the rise of credit in China and Taiwan, where the financial system was still not deregulated, was clearly more moderate than in the crisis-hit Asian countries (Perry and Lederman 1998: p. 11). As a result of the increasing domestic credit, broad money (M2) expanded at a near 20 per cent annual rate in 1996 and 1997 in the five countries.

As Nelson (1991) points out, ‘the theoretical preconceptions shared by most economists lead them to ignore firms’ differences’. Hence, the theory offers no real basis for understanding why at certain times some firms are successful in product market competition but others are not. The principal-agent theory of the firm accepts the neoclassical firm as proposition but adds to it the notion of a control hierarchy. This theory concentrates on the ways in which the owners can discipline the managers with whom they have contracted.

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