Korean Business, a Culture Challenge

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Korean Business
A Culture Challenge

Being unprepared for cultural and value differences in a foreign country can have adverse results if one is seeking to maintain long-term employment abroad. To benefit from travels abroad, relative to employment, requires one to learn and understand the history, culture and customs of the country’ firm(s) in which one is seeking employment. Business structure and practices, dress codes, social customs and etiquette, all vary widely from country to country in the business sector. Being unprepared to address these requirements can ultimately lead to failure as was the case with Linda Myers. Linda Myers, a former partner at WorldWise consulting firm in Washington, DC, experienced such failure while employed as an American executive at SK Telecom in South Korea. Seeking to exploit an opportunity in expatriate transitions at SK, Myers saw this as an opportunity to be an expat in Asia’s fourth-largest economy (Green, 2011). However, she failed to adequately prepare for the cultural differences between Eastern and Western ways of conducting businesses. Especially in the way Koreans adhere to the traditional cultural traits of harmony relative to Confucian, favoritism, status, rank, and specifically in hierarchy. Although SK is recognized as one of the first Korean companies to abolish hierarchic management, Myers was unprepared for the company’s rigid hierarchy. SK had a high Power/Distance (PD), according to Hofstede’s Five Dimensions of Culture, which resulted in Meyers finding difficulty in communicating and being acknowledged in meetings where she was the only women in the room. Additionally, Masculinity (MAS) which refers to how much a society sticks with, and values, traditional male and female roles may have played a significant role during the same meetings. Although South Korea has moderately low masculinity indicating its culture values encouragement, cooperation, and relationship-building, a point of importance...
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