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Minyuan Zhao and Bernard Yeung

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Randall Morck and Bernard Yeung

Japan, an isolated, backward country in the 1860s, industrialized rapidly to become a major industrial power by the 1930s. South Korea, among the world’s poorest countries in the 1960s, joined the ranks of First World economies in little over a single generation. China now seems poised to follow a similar trajectory. All three cases highlight the importance of marginalized traditional elites, intensive early investment in education, a degree of economic openness, free markets, equity financing, early-stage coordination of firms in diverse industries via arrangements such as business groups, and political institutions capable of curbing the power of families grown wealthy in early-stage rapid development to make way for prosperity sustained by efficient resource allocation to high-productivity firms.