Samsung Case Study

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Maintaining the “Single Samsung” Spirit: Recommendations for a changing environment

Contents

Introduction

1.a. Samsung:
- Philosophy
- Culture
- Values
- Human Resource Policies

1.b. Philosophical grounding of Samsung’s Value System:
- Ontological Assumptions
- Agency Assumptions
- Epistemological Assumptions

2.a. Current Challenges facing Samsung’s NEO program:
- A Changing Profile of New Samsung Employees
- A Shift in Generation Values

2.b. Recommendations for the Restructure of the NEO program
- A Positivistic Approach
- An Interpretivistic Approach

Conclusion

Introduction
Samsung has grown to become of the world’s leading companies with a brand value estimated at US$18 billion and over 263,000 employees in 68 countries as of 2007. Since its beginning in 1938, Samsung has developed itself with a strong emphasis on a core set of values, later formalised as the “Single Samsung” spirit. Despite its impressive financial success, management is concerned that the unique culture of Samsung is under threat from within. This is due to a shift in the value orientation of a younger generation of employees, who identify less with traditional practices and favour more open and egalitarian human resource policies.

Part one of this report describes the key components of the “Single Samsung” initiative, which is at the core of Samsung culture and identifies the main philosophical perspective that informs this value system. Part two looks at the two current challenges in Samsung’s employment environment and recommends two different restructure programs that are grounded in contrasting philosophical perspectives.

1. Samsung’s philosophy, culture, values and HR policies

1.a. (i) The Samsung Philosophy
The Samsung philosophy, first and foremost, is built upon a strong investment in its employees. Its approach encapsulates a modern South Korea, which although poor in natural resources, has dedicated itself to the development and education of its human resources.

Byung-Chull Lee, the Samsung founder, built the company’s corporate philosophy on three key values: * Economic contribution to the nation
* Top priority of people
* Pursuit of rationality

These values epitomise the Samsung corporate philosophy that “a company is its people” and form the cornerstone of a company environment that lives and breathes the South Korean philosophy of dedication to its workers.

1.a. (ii) The Samsung Culture
Samsung’s corporate philosophy created a performance-orientated culture that rewarded employees for exhibiting complete devotion to their work. Samsung’s culture is focused on the facilitation of new ideas, technology and innovation that has helped them develop a company that is at the very cutting-edge of product design and development.

Another key element of Samsung’s culture is its emphasis on cooperation between management and various functional departments. By breaking down the traditional boundary between management and workers, Samsung has cultivated a fast, dynamic and adaptable corporate culture that has become a global benchmark.

1.a. (iii) Samsung Values
Building on the founding chairman’s three key values, Samsung has sought to address the challenges associated with a rapidly changing global marketplace with a centralised initiative: “Single Samsung”.

The “Single Samsung” initiative encompassed five main factors: People: Encapsulates the founding chairman’s belief that “a company is its people”.

Excellence: Denotes the continual endeavour to overcome challenges and pursue excellence in every facet of the business. Change: Represents Samsung’s commitment to implement change and innovation to remain an industry leader. Integrity: Maintains that Samsung acted ethically,...
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