American and South Korean Business Cultures | Free Essay Example

American and South Korean Business Cultures

Words: 1115
Topic: Business & Economics

Culture and environment affect institutions and their management in several ways. Technological advancements have allowed individuals from different cultures and backgrounds to work and communicate together. This experience appears to be both exciting to some and frustrating to the other. Some individuals find it hard to adjust to both the institutional and the national cultural differences; the failure to do so consequently leads to a drop in their performances (Burman, 2012). Based on the above discussions, this paper evaluates a case study involving a female American manager performing an assignment for a South Korean company. In the article, the problems faced by the manager are highlighted together with the possible recommendations to solve those issues.

A personal opinion on what went wrong

According to the case study, it is apparent that Linda Myers experienced numerous cultural and environmental challenges from her first day in SK Telecom (Green, 2011). In the Korean company, she was the first female American executive. Even though Myers was a professional transition expatriate, the problems encountered in her new work were more challenging than those she had earlier perceived. At the workplace, Myers struggled to fit into the organization’s culture without appropriate orientation. Surprisingly, her superiors gave her inappropriate guidance, having forced her to learn how to understand the organization on her own. Equally, Myers observed that few westerners were working for the company. Notably, Myers’ frankness contradicted with the courteous habits of her new workmates. Having worked for the company for some time, it did not take long before Myers realized that her new employer’s expectations were very different from what she had earlier imagined. By the end of her second year in the company, Myers gave way to exhaustion and relinquished her job (Green, 2011).

In my opinion, Myers failed to do her best at the new company due to several reasons. First, before quitting her previous job, Myers did not take time to analyze the challenges that she was going to face at a new company. According to the case study, the problems encountered at the new company were different from the ones that were presented at the organizations Myers had worked for before. In the case study, it is asserted that when Myers assumed office, she found the situations she was facing different from the ones she had perceived. If Myers had equipped herself with the skills on how to tackle such challenges before, she could have succeeded in her new job. Secondly, Myers failed to perform to her best due to conflict of interests between her and her employer. In her latest work, Myers did not clearly understand her mandate. Her employer wanted her to draw international appeal to the company within a short time. On the other hand, Myers thought that the time offered to adjust the culture of the company would be longer than the one she was granted. Due to the differences in views, Myers performed poorly at the new organization.

The problem Ms. Myers encountered

To comprehend the challenges that Myers experienced, we have to evaluate interpersonal affairs and management of the two countries and working environments with the help of Hofstede’s dimension theories of culture (Mullins & Walker, 2012). These dimensions are power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation. Regarding power distance, the US has a dimension of 40, while South Korea has a dimension of 60. Based on this analysis, it is apparent that Korean society is more hierarchical than the American one. Therefore, the Korean subordinates are more willing to listen to what they are supposed to perform than the US subordinates. This implies that in the case study, Myers faced considerable challenges in running the hierarchical organization where the employees expected guidance even though she was a new manager.

Regarding individualism, the US has a dimension of 91, while South Korea has a dimension of 18. Based on these scores, it is apparent that South Korea is a collectivist society, while the US has an individualistic society (Mullins & Walker, 2012). As such, in moral terms, employer and employee relationships were perceived in Korea, unlike they would have been in the US. Similarly, Myers had to learn how to manage her subordinates in groups like the Korean society upheld collective culture in contrast to the US society.

On masculinity, the US has a dimension of 62, while South Korea has a dimension of 39. Unlike in the US, where society is more masculine, Korean society is more feminine. This implies that at the new company, Myers, as well as faced challenges, while striving for consensus. Unlike her previous workplaces, the new organization required her to value equality and solidarity in her subordinates (Mullins & Walker, 2012). Therefore, she had to be supportive and make an organization’s decisions by involving her subordinates. On uncertainty and avoidance, the US has a dimension of 46, while South Korea has a dimension of 85. Based on these dimensions, it implies that Myers faced tough challenges while implementing new ideas in her new organization. Unlike the Americans who easily approach uncertainty, the Koreans will resist new ideas and change at a higher rate (Mullins & Walker, 2012). Based on long-term orientation, the US has a dimension of 29, while South Korea has a dimension of 75. Myers realized that her new organization prioritized long-term growth rather than short-term progress as in the US. Therefore, she had to accept the fact that the company’s primary goal was to increase its incomes not quarterly but for generations to come.

Changes Ms. Myers could have made in her management style to accommodate to Korean environment

To accommodate to Korean environment, Myers should have learned to appreciate and understand that new culture (Brown, 2010). Contrary to trying to implement innovative ideas, she should have learned how the organization had been performing without changes. Through this, she would have identified ways of perfecting the execution of existing approaches and processes. Similarly, Myers should have increased her interaction with other staff members to survive in the new environment. Even though there were few westerners at the company, Myers should have put more effort into communicating with these individuals. Through this, she would have learned how they had become successful in the organization as foreigners.

Similarly, Myers should have comprehensively consulted with the company’s stakeholders before introducing new changes. As earlier stated, Koreans are more conservative than Americans are. Therefore, changes in their organizations are likely to be met with their resistance and unwillingness to accept them. For instance, Myers should have taken more time before requesting her employees to call her Linda rather than Sang Mu Linda because of doing so. She compromised her participative leadership style.


Burman, B. (2012). Managing Cultural Diversity in a Global World. –Human resources for today’s workplace. Web.

Brown, J. (2010) The Organization of the Future. Brown Web.

Green, S. (2011). The Would-Be Pioneer. Harvard Business Review, 89(4), 124-126.

Mullins, J. W., & Walker (2012) Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions: Understanding Workplace Values Around the World. Web.