In praise of the conglomeratesThe image of Korean conglomerates is increasingly deteriorating. According to the latest survey by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Hyundai Research Institute, the corporate favorability index dropped to 50.8 in the first half of the year from 51.5 in the second half of last year.
Although respondents acknowledged conglomerates’ contributions to our international competitiveness, giving them 82.8 points, the conglomerates’ contributions to the domestic economy barely topped 50 points, with their corporate social responsibility plummeting to 37 points and their management ethics earning just 23 points.
The results explicitly show that our conglomerates have fallen pitifully short of expectations. The anti-corporate sentiment sweeping society may, of course, have had a negative impact on people’s perceptions.
As socioeconomic polarization increases, leftist groups and the liberal media outlets that galvanize their demands are getting tougher, too.
It’s no doubt that some conglomerates deserve the criticism because they not only attempt to intrude in the realm of small businesses but also try to make easy money by importing the world’s top brands without considering small businesses or thinking about ways to develop indigenous technologies. They are also blamed for the continued expansion of their businesses as well as for succession schemes that put founding families’ offspring in top posts at corporate affiliates.
Our schools are not free from blame. Many teachers still implant anti-conglomerate values into the hearts of students, with some textbooks still leaning toward leftist ideologies. Compliments for labor activists are still abundant, while conglomerates’ sacrifices and hardships are rarely mentioned. The textbooks even say that as a result of economic development, our reliance on foreign countries grew, rural areas’ living conditions got worse and our industrial imbalance began to deteriorate.
Big companies are the major source for new jobs. A majority of survey respondents cited employment as conglomerates’ most critical job. Anti-corporate factions’ ability to create jobs is quite limited. We should encourage conglomerates to create more jobs - the best welfare policy - rather than discourage it.