Ellen Moore Working in Korea

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Ellen Moore has been assigned to a project in South Korea. The project is a joint venture (JVI) between Western Systems Inc. (WSI), a North American company and Korean Conglomerate Inc. (KCI), a Korean company. Ellen was chosen to run the project on behalf of Andrew Kilpatrick, who is part of the System Consulting group at WSI. Andrew was to manage the project on a part time basis from North America. He chose Ellen to lead project on site as a result of her strengths in project management. Andrew also felt that Ellen’s previous success working in Bahrain showed that she would be able to handle the cultural differences. Andrew was aware of the culture difference in Korea and before he sent Ellen he was assured by American consultants that as long as Ellen was qualified for the position she would be accepted. Andrew wanted to consult the Korean consultants on this matter but was assured by the American consultants that is would be ok. In addition to Ellen, Scott Adams would also join Ellen a few months after her arrival in Korea. What Ellen experiences throughout her time in Korea does not suggest that the Korean consultants are ok with her being a woman. Why is Ellen a successful manager?

The following characteristics seen in the case make Ellen a great manager/leader: * Competitive & Highly Motivated – Without these she wouldn’t have gotten so far so fast. Both of these characteristics are why she graduated high school at 16. Ellen loves to learn; a great example of this is her learning the Korean language as she sits in traffic traveling home from work even though she is exhausted, by reading the signs. * Teacher – She enjoys teaching and does so whenever the opportunity presents itself. Her natural leadership qualities show when after her short period of working with the group in Jack’s absence you see members of the team sticking by Ellen when this wasn’t the case prior to Jack’s absence. They are naturally following her. * Compassionate/great mentor- Ellen is a natural leader, this is evident when she finally gets her chance to work with the group while Jack Kim is away. Upon return he finds them questioning what he wants stating that they are doing something for Ellen. * Assertive- Assertive but no so aggressive as too turn others off. * Self Confidence- Ellen always exudes confidence. One particular example of this at the dinner with Jack and other colleagues. Jack asked the translator to not translate for Ellen, the translator is fearful of losing her job if she tells Ellen why, so Ellen interrupts Jack’s speech saying the translator is having a hard time hearing him rather than sitting there letting his show continue. * Respectful but not passive – She tries to understand why her fellow workers do certain things by asking questions of them to help her understand. An example of this is when she questions the ill Korean worker who refuses to leave until his boss does even though his work is complete. She illustrates respect for his values but tries to show him there are alternatives. What would you advise Ellen to do and why?

Before advising Ellen it is crucial to understand why she has experienced the conflicts she has in Korea. Koreans are more influenced by Confucian ways than any other business culture including China. So what does that mean? * It is important to make a friend first before a client, Koreans need to have this relationship built so that you’ll be trustworthy, honorable and respectable to them. They value family and similar relations a great deal. * Korean companies are vertically hierarchal; decisions are made at the top and delegated downwards. Age alone can dictate seniority regardless of skills and previous achievement. * Confucian values stresses obedience and loyalty. In return for this obedience and loyalty a manager provides the support needed by subordinates. * It is important to have relationships established before...
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