Saturday, August 26, 2006

Balli-Balli, Korea’s Competitive Advantage

Globalization shapes most business ventures.

For example, manufacturing and production internationally flows to where goods can be produced at the lowest price.

Ever increasing costs for labor, raw materials and energy mean that Korean (and for that matter Japanese) competitive advantages have eroded.

In fact, because labor costs are considerable less in South East Asia and China than in South Korea many manufacturing jobs have left Korea for cheaper labor markets.

So where do Korean firms see their competitive advantage.


The Korean word for this is Balli-Balli, which translates as fast-fast.

This term once meant producing low quality goods quickly, at low prices.

Today, however, producing quality goods is very important.

Nevertheless, many top Korean firms recognize their global competitive advantage and strength is still in moving quickly.

Now, this often causes stress for westerners working with Korean teams--with the Western business model of careful meticulous study and planning before implementation conflicting with the Korean value of balli-balli.

In fact, one complaint voiced by my Korean clients is how slow Westerners move on projects. In turn, my Western clients argue Koreans want to jump into a project or situation with little preparation.…

To conclude, recognizing that Korea and Korean business see that moving quickly as their competitive advantage is crucial when working with Korean teams.

To many Korean firms it’s a core value.

In turn, I would argue that successful global firms need to defend their core values and unlike operating practices and business strategies, which can vary from market-to-market, Core values need to spans all cultural borders.

If a Korean firm’s core value, practice, and expectation is Balli-Balli then understanding this concept is vital and can greatly reduce cultural clashes and challenges.

No comments:

Post a Comment