Amid disruptive market conditions perhaps the greatest ripple effect challenge to Korean global business is how best to maintain positive and collaborative working relations between Western and Korean teams.
From a cross-cultural perspective Korean commerce is dependent upon relationships and interpersonal interactions. Western business, in contrast, leans toward process and procedure. Therefore when Korea-facing working relations are strained culturally, there is a heightened impact throughout the entire organization.
Without discounting market conditions and intense pressure to meet aggressive sales goals, I see impact of adapting to a rapidly changing and disruptive business landscape at the core of many strained relationships.
As author Thomas L. Friedman points out in Thank You for Being Late:
“As we transition from an industrial-age economy to a computer-Internet-mobile-broadband-driven economy—that is, a supernova-driven economy—we are experiencing the growing pains of adjusting. ”
Drilling deeper, I have found this acceleration has markets and industry sectors ever shifting. For example, the automotive industry is witnessing and adjusting to new consumer preferences, such as collaborative consumption shared ride services of which Uber, Lyft and Maven are examples, self-driving autonomous technology and eco-friendly vehicles.
That said, we as a society are also experiencing the need to adapt more frequently and at a more rapid pace than ever in the past. The good news is we are perhaps adapting faster than anytime in history. Still there is a substantial gap in the high rate of change and speed we adapt. This gap is disorienting and business models that worked in the past have become outdated further adding to stress and frustration.
In my work, this leads to a Korea driven climate of reactive and hopeful second-guess decision-making, or, in some cases, the opposite in stalled action. In both situations, I feel we need to embrace a middle course— a well thought out and responsive plan.
Again Thomas Freidman, too, recognizes this need to ponder. He notes, and I paraphrase:
Patience… space for reflection and thought. We are generating more information and knowledge than ever today, but knowledge is only good if you can reflect on it.
In closing I return to my original point of the vital importance of maintaining relationships amid the current market condition. No matter how challenging the situation we need to take time and work to forge strong collaborative bonds within teams Friedman again remarks:
“And it is not just knowledge that is improved by pausing. So, too, is the ability to build trust, …to form deeper and better connections, not just fast ones, with other human beings, our ability to forge deep relationships—to love, to care, to hope, to trust, and to build voluntary communities based on shared values—is one of the most uniquely human capacities we have.”