Korean firms far behind in creativity

2013-05-07 16:25

Korean firms far behind in creativity

By Kim Rahn

The government is aiming to achieve a “creative economy” by adopting more creative and innovative ideas in all industries. In reality, however, employees think Korea’s working culture is far from creative. If the corporate cultures of global firms famous for creativity, such as Google or Facebook are graded at 100, the average score for Korean companies would be 59.2, mainly due to hierarchism, a survey showed Tuesday. The survey was conducted recently on 500 workers by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). According to the study, the smaller the size of a company, the lower a score it obtained. Asked the reasons for such low grades, 61.8 percent of those surveyed cited the country’s hierarchical culture or rigid communication system in which juniors always have to obey superiors. When multiple responses were given, 45.3 percent said the corporate culture puts more value on the organization than on individuals. “Seniors give orders and juniors follow. That’s all. Some seniors even think that juniors who make suggestions about work are impertinent,” said a steel company worker who asked not to be named.“We also have dinner and drinking sessions very frequently. Even though I tell seniors I have a pre-arranged appointment, it doesn’t matter to them. The company comes first always. I’m seriously thinking about moving to another firm,” he said.

More than 68 percent of respondents said they have had conflicts with superiors, mostly due to a lack of communication.

When asked if their corporate culture was conservative, 71.5 percent answered yes, and most said it was because CEOs cannot change their mindsets.

More than 87 percent said changes in corporate culture are necessary to begin an era of creative economy.

About 51 percent said their companies did not accept new ideas from workers, while another 4.8 percent said they appeared to, but it was no more than lip service. Only 14.1 percent of respondents felt their employers adopted suggestions from outside experts or customers in technology development or marketing.

“For a change suitable to the new era, the culture of ‘working hard’ should be transformed into ‘working smart’ throughout the whole of industry. What the new era needs is a corporate culture that respects individuals,” an official of the KCCI said.

“Companies should avoid hierarchical and conservative culture, encourage workers to communicate freely, and accept juniors’ ideas more open-mindedly. They also need to give a second chance to people who have failed, instead of criticizing them,” he said.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

One Response to Korean firms far behind in creativity

  1. Ellen says:

    It doesn’t prove that Korea is NOT creative!!!!!! Very bad article.

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