Ellen Moore: Living and Working in Korea

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Case Study
Ellen Moore (A): Living and Working in Korea

Carman Ka Man Leung
Operations Management 357
9th May 2008

Executive Summary
A Systems Consulting Group (SCG) Consultant, Ellen Moore, was sent to South Korea as a project management representative for a Systems Implementation (SI) project involving forty Korean consultants and a SI team. Joint Venture Inc. (JVI), formed between Korean Conglomerate Inc. (KCI) AND Western Systems Inc. (WSI) was to implement the recommended systems into over one hundred local offices and a government agency as end-users of the new system. Moore, appointed by Andrew Kilpatrick to co-manage the SI project with Jack Kim strives to immerse herself into a different work culture, where underlying issues of: sexism, lack of communication, cultural differences, differing expectations and principles of Confucianism results into the project’s progress to fall behind. Three North American SCG Consultants were involved for the first seven months of the project in transferring their expertise and knowledge to the Korean Consultants. Unfortunately upon Moore’s arrival, she discovered that the Korean consultants had lacked the skills expected, and tension rose between Kim and her regarding the project’s scope and who was responsible in giving team directions. Due to the Koreans’ respect for position and status, Moore and Scott Adams found the project’s structure and peoples’ behaviour to be influenced by hierarchy. The project had reached its climax from the refusal to accept Moore’s directions from Korean male team members as issues of gender and Confucian values escalated. Out of Moore’s control, it left her seeking senior assistance from George Peterson, who contacted Kilpatrick immediately to be flown to Korea and assess the situation. Mr. Park, Kim’s Senior, held several discussions with Kilpatrick; however, Mr. Park insisted the problem was Moore. Meanwhile, Kilpatrick solicited advice from Robert Brown, WSI Co-Managing Director, who suggested Mr. Park’s Senior, Mr. Song to be approached directly before addressing issues to the JVI committee. Kilpatrick explained to Mr. Song thoroughly of the current situation, unfortunately, similar to Mr. Park, Mr. Song insisted Moore was the problem.

Discussion: Issues and Causes

Problem 1: Conflict between Jack Kim and Ellen Moore.
From the beginning of Kim and Moore’s relationship in the SI team, controversial issues had quickly emerged due to the confusion of their position and responsibilities. Kim, who was told that he was the sole project manager for SI on a daily basis, was incorrectly informed as Moore was told to be the co-project manager with him. This resulted into further escalation of issues when Moore took on the role of coaching and leading the team, whilst Kim became increasingly confused. The main cause of the conflict between Kim and Moore was the lack of communication between KCI and WSI in notifying the correct position and responsibilities for Kim and Moore. This lack of communication created fights and heated discussions within the first few weeks between Kim and Moore since they were stepping upon each other’s territory. Strong communication between teams, team members and within JVI was vital in order for the consulting project to be successful. The SI team had deliverables which were a major input to the other groups, however, the issues between Moore and Kim due to JVI’s poor communication resulted into deliverables being delayed, thus, impacting the effectiveness of the entire project. Moore found it extremely difficult to redirect the Korean team members’ activities as they only followed Kim’s instructions. The lack of communication JVI had enforced led team members to work inefficiently, since they chose to listen to the directions of who they believed was the one and only project manager, Kim. To make matters worse, after frequent SI team meetings with Moore on...
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