The role of standards in innovation and diffusion of broadband mobile services: The case of South Korea

We explore the evolution of the mobile infrastructure in South Korea through the lens of actor
network theory. In particular, we analyze the roles of standards in promoting, enabling and
constraining innovation in broadband mobile services over a 10-year period. During this period,
Korea moved from the position of a follower to the forefront of the mobile computing revolution by
erecting one of the world's most advanced broadband mobile infrastructures. Our study shows how
CDMA standards shaped specific configurations of actor networks that enabled the fast and
aggressive development and deployment of 2G mobile infrastructures and a rapid transition to 3G
services. These actor networks span three separate and critical realms of activities: the regulatory
regime, the innovation system, and the market place. Our in-depth case analysis shows how specific
connections and events across these three realms promoted the rapid expansion and deployment of
mobile services in Korea. Our study suggests that successful innovation and diffusion of broadband
mobile services are collective achievements and firms need to deploy strategies that enable them to
mobilize broad socio-technical networks that include technological, institutional, political and
financial resources. At the heart of such strategies, standards play critical roles as they mediate
different interests and motivations among participating actors.

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Keywords:

Actor network theory, IT policies, Infrastructures, Innovation, Mobile phones, Standards

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Language(s):English
AuthorsYoo, Youngjin (Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, USA ), Lyytinen, Kalle (Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, USA), Yang, Heedong (College of Management, Ewha Womans University, Rep. of Korea)
Publisher:Elsevier B.V.
Keywords:Actor network theory, IT policies, Infrastructures, Innovation, Mobile phones, Standards
Last update:2005