This remark can be heard often. I personally have experienced it pop up in discussions while working for Korea companies. It surfaces often in chats with my Korea facing international clients. In particular, it’s an issue when Korean firms promote themselves as “global, “ but push back with few wanting to move beyond the standard response “That wouldn’t work in Korea” or the caveat “That’s not how we do things at [insert company name] – most often this is when international teams seek to share their global approach to business.
Frankly they are right--things do work well in Korea, but this is the very root of the problem for a list of reasons. For one, if global brand or company enters the local Korean market with a new product or service they bring an international model, which needs to be followed A-Z.
I’ve seen brands and projects falter when they do not embrace fully or the local partner picks and choices what they see fitting well, dismissing what they see as “different.” At times one has to question the motive behind this pick and choice, especially when drilling deeper --Control or Openness to Change-- becoming the real issue.
On another level, asking global team to follow Korean corporate norms outside Korea is a huge and growing concern. Policy developed in Korea which works well in Korea, rarely translates internationally. More so, when this means decisions for what should be local have to come from teams Korean HQ.
Of course working through these issues is where I come in… mentoring, giving perspective, providing context, sharing workarounds and facilitating the change we seek.