How have the developmentally oriented states of East Asia coped with the unprecedented levels of structural power that global companies now possess? This article argues that under conditions of intensifying knowledge-based competition, states with strategic industry objectives seek new ways of managing collaborative ties between public and private actors. The argument is developed by examining the development of the Korean telecommunications sector from the 1980s to the 2000s. The Korean state's relationship with the conglomerates or chaebol has been based increasingly on an equal partnership in which the chaebol themselves are expected to bear greater responsibility for promoting national techno-industrial competitiveness. These expectations have been translated into two main forms: (i) collaborating in state-sponsored efforts to promote the international standardization of Korean-developed technologies, and (ii) providing initial markets for the innovations created by fledgling high-tech start-ups who provide crucial sources of innovation in the pursuit of the Korean state's emphasis on transitioning towards innovation-led development.