By Don Southerton, KoreaLegal.org Editor
As noted in the 3 previous Korea Facing hierarchy articles (see LINK below), power in Korean companies is often very centralized and only people at the highest level have the right to decide on issues. In Korea, the working team’s role is to implement or gather needed information. In other cases where overseas leadership and teams hope to offer a new service or program, local Korean management’s role is to gather information and then share with the appropriate senior team members, who are often in Korea. The local opinion is valued, but review may come from Korea.
When conducting a meeting where a decision must be made please recognize that your local Korean team(s) will have considerable say in it’s outcome. This may include both the operations and finance teams. First, since the topic and subject matter may be new to your Korean team, I recommend you share prior to the meeting any needed background documents (best provided in PPT format). In addition, have an informal pre-meeting Q&A with the Korean team leader to brief and update them on any specifics. Note: they may need a day to review proposals and agreements, so timing is critical. Even in the best cases, expect that the Korean team may want to postpone any decision until they can carefully review and perhaps confer with Korea. I suggest all documents and meeting PPTs be immediately forwarded to the Korean team. I’d create a sense of urgency with a timeline for execution and implementation. Regardless, expect some delays and be patient. Over the years, I’ve found that Korean teams appreciate when their overseas co-workers recognize that the internal approval process takes time and offer supportive data or documents.
BTW…if your firm provides services to a Korea–based partner, provide both the western and Korean teams with background information prior to any meetings. Moreover, be prepared to share the meeting’s content with the Korean team, too.
LINK to Korea Facing http://archive.aweber.com/bcw-clients/DIzHI