Collective Experience and Civil Society in Governance

32 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2007

See all articles by Younguck Kang

Younguck Kang

KDI School of Public Policy and Management

Date Written: December 2006


Korea is widely recognized as a paragon of miraculous economic development as well as rapid advancement of democracy, and yet most researchers in Korea point to the lack of political leadership and immaturity of civil society as dominant factors inhibiting advancement of democracy. Considering the lack of experiences in self-governance by grassroots Korean people, where such experience is only recently (since 1988 at most) beginning to accumulate, such a claim may mislead the true nature of the obstacles in advancement of democracy as the Korean society as a whole face today: it may imply that the institutional context of Korean society has little effect on deterrence of democracy.

It is the claim of this author that the maturing of civil society depends on cumulative experiences of self-governance and subsequent learning effect from such 'collective experience,' which in turn must shape the institutional context of a society and the role expectation of actors and institutions. This paper aims at identifying the relationship between civil society and 'collective experience' in the context of Korean society, especially in terms of the inherent limitations imposed by transplanted governance structure, independent of such 'collective experiences' and lack of consensus on role expectations, on the advancement of democracy.

Keywords: governance, self-governance, civil society, leadership, collective experience, consensus building

JEL Classification: D7, N40, Z00

Suggested Citation

Kang, Younguck, Collective Experience and Civil Society in Governance (December 2006). KDI School of Pub Policy & Management Paper No. 06-14, Available at SSRN: or

Younguck Kang (Contact Author)

KDI School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 184
Seoul, 130-868
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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