A ‘Made in Korea’ culture

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A ‘Made in Korea’ culture

Six months have passed since Nick Reilly, who gained popularity by appearing in a television commercial, moved to Shanghai after being promoted to president of GM’s Asia-Pacific region.
People are still talking, however, about his days as president of GM Daewoo, when he changed the hearts of labor unions with a “personal touch” style of business management, drinking soju and eating samgyeopsal (grilled pork) with laborers.
Boeing Korea president William Oberlin, who was reelected as Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea for the second time at the end of last year, is a “Korea expert,” having worked in our country for 20 years. He is married to a Korean woman.
How can we plant a good enterprising culture in foreign countries? This question has become an issue in the global management world. Enterprise culture is often referred to as the “spirit” or “intangible asset” of a corporation. While advanced multinational corporations preserve the enterprise cultures they have developed for over a hundred years, they make an effort to conform to the sentiment and environment of the country in which they have launched their business.
The mood in foreign companies located in Korea reminds us of the Korean Wave, suggesting globalization has actively begun in Korea with the opening of all its economic doors after the financial crisis of 1997.
It is noteworthy that 60 percent of the CEOs of the 1,600 foreign companies registered in the Korean Foreign Company Association are Korean.
How far have the enterprise cultures of our big-name corporations gone in the world? When looking at an investigation conducted by the JoongAng Ilbo and Ajou University (a five-part series that started Jan. 9), it was a relief that Samsung, Hyundai Motor, LG and SK were able to continue their growth amidst the imbroglio of the Korean financial crisis. Compared to “hard” elements like technology or quality, they continued to fall behind advanced, multinational companies in “soft” elements, like enterprise culture and brand names.
For example, when stubbornly adhering to our nature of collectivism and doing things quickly, companies must reflect on whether they had exasperated the local workers and damaged business.
One hopes Korea will be able to create a “Made in Korea” enterprise culture that becomes a global phrase written about in business administration textbooks and used worldwide, like 3M’s “15 percent rule” and GE’s “Six Sigma.”

*The writer is a deputy business editor of the JoongAng Ilbo

by By Hong Seung-il
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