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[VIEWPOINT]Lessons for Multinationals of All Types

Foreign firms must integrate, and Korean firms must separate ownership and management.

Apr 03,2001
In 1988, a Japanese association doing research on economic issues suggested that there were some basic preconditions for the globalization of Japanese corporations. First, establish a management philosophy which is compatible with international trends. Second, make sure your company has a distinctive presence in the world market. Third, your global strategy should correspond with your local activities. Fourth, pursue your own unique localization tactics instead of following the established route. Fifth, secure efficient and global-minded human resources. Last, use up-to-date strategies that are not confined by national borders.

I participated in the creation of these guidelines and have always taken them to heart. I am also guided by the following roles and duties of corporations while managing a business in Korea.

First, devise a code to implement your management philosophy - and live up to it. Second, have the courage to act differently from other firms. Third, develop insight into changes in the business environment and draw up management plans accordingly. Fourth, appoint directors from outside the company regardless of nationality, sex and occupation, to maintain transparency and objectivity. Fifth, conduct profit-making activities in accord with social responsibilities - make an active contribution towards the society you are operating in. Last, set achievement goals and an evaluation system worthy of a globalized company.

With regard to the relationship between host countries and foreign based firms, the following points should be considered. First, foreign firms should take active steps to integrate into the local society. People of different cultural backgrounds need an original management philosophy so as to achieve common aims. It is crucial to not discriminate by race, sex or belief.

Second, global firms should acknowledge their obligations towards international society. Needless to say, globalized firms must conform to international norms such as audit laws and environment laws, and respect local customs, culture and regulations.

Third, international firms should take responsibility for the consequences of their actions on the economy of the host country. Globalization can result in damage to domestic industries and increase unemployment - on the other hand, it can contribute to national economic growth and increasing profits. Globalized firms must make efforts to coordinate corporate strategy with national benefits. In other words, international firms must perceive themselves as "denationalized," not pursuing the interests of any single country.

I would like to mention the changes that Korean firms and Korea need to make to globalize, learned in my three years of experience as a manager here.

First, for successful globalization, the modernization of Korean firms is necessary. The merits of the role of the Korean chaebol (conglomerates) in the past miraculous economic growth of Korea cannot be ignored, but if firms do not follow shifts in the international paradigm, Korea will not keep up with international trends. Specifically, Korean firms should be mindful of the need for separating management and ownership and an expert management system, and put priority on intangible assets such as knowledge, technology and information.

Second, an energetic spirit of challenge and competition is required to advance globally, but bad-mouthing or copying other firms has no place in a strategy. Also, always work toward customer satisfaction.

Third, Korea has the advantage of efficient human resources proficient in English and Japanese. But urgent innovations are needed in social customs, the education system and public consciousness. The government and corporations should therefore cooperate actively, and the government must fulfill its duty as a lubricant of the private sector. If these steps are implemented, Koreans' efforts will bear fruit.


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The writer is chairman and CEO of Fuji Xerox Korea Co., Ltd.


by Takasugi Nobuya




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