Ellen Moore: Living and Working in Korea

Question 1: What are the problems in this case?

1.Elllen’s female identity made her an alienated participant in the work place in Korea, whose culture is dominantly masculine. The acceptance of her came in and took responsibility as the senior member of the project was early based on a compromise of her obtaining of required skills, however, her identity as a female was constantly reemphasized in the company’s social events.

2.Ellen and Jack were both initially appointed as the co-manager to the SI project, however, from the organizational structure perspective, the power was not equally distributed between the two participants: Jack clearly had much more commanding authority than Ellen.

With Andrew involved in a distance manner and absented from daily management, and the other manager in the above hierarchy such as Mr. Park was only directly connected with Jack instead of Ellen, all of those factors had resulted in even sever power inequality.

3.The group project progress was severely delayed, and the communication efficiency is low between the U.

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S personal and Korean personals, In addition, Jack as a senior consultant, had deliberately made work decisions diverged from the overall objective of the project (by adding a time consuming and unnecessary market research). Plus, the skills of other Korean consultants were obviously not sufficient and the effort that Ellen tried to make on coaching the junior consultant was interpreted by Jack as personally criticizing as him lacking of leadership ability.

4.The communication with clients was limited and the information exchange was restricted.

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The relationship with client was not established on a mutually beneficial service provider and buyer bases, rather the clients obtained relative dominate power towards the project group by requiring the consultant conduct extra tasks beyond work scope.

5. The higher management blamed the inefficiency of team performance sole on Ellen, which Andrew considered that it was the ineffective organizational structure and inaccurate information provided by the Korean side regarding team skills that resulted in the problem.

Question 2: Now that you have discussed all of the problems, pick two or three root problems and discuss why you believe they are driving the other problems. The principal problems that resulted in Ellen’s dilemma are the inequity of female and male roles; the hierarchy and power that Jack possessed to command the fellow junior consultant running the project in a diverged direction; also the hierarchy that the client posses towards the project team.

As for the gender inequity aspect, it is clear that the Korean traditional has played a significant role, even though there were improvement of women social status in young generation, in the business environment, male are still dominating the workplace and the male and female are still in a superior-subordinate relation. Given that Ellen and Scott are both functioning as senior consultants for the SI project, however, Ellen was the only one getting ultimate criticism in the eyes of the higher Korean management.

Moreover, the overall organization structure also demonstrates an inequity of gender where tolerance for diversity of ideas and individuals do not tend to be encouraged (In the Eye of the Beholder, cross cultural lessons in leadership from project GLOBE, Mansour Javidan, Peter W. Dorfma, etc), therefore, female opinions such as Ellen’s towards Jack’s market research proposal will be consider unacceptable as in the business setting as SI project team. Beside gender issue, the tension between Jack and Ellen also raised from the in-depth culturally sense of power and respect for hierarchy which also explaining the ineffective communication manner between the Ellen and other Korean consultants. Jack pointed as the leader of Korean team will expected a full commanding authority and loyalty from his Korean subordinates who are also intuitively perceive Jack as the leader.

Ellen’s direct involvement with the Korean junior consultants was perceived by Jack as trespassing and challenging of his leadership power. Besides, regarding to the clients, the JVI had never build up a connection with the client until the surprisingly got the contract, the existence of hierarchy and non-trust between client and project team lead to the inefficiency of obtaining client information, later resulted in Jack’s misleading proposal for market research. Also, because in the concept of high power distance, decision making process is limited one-way participation and communication (In the Eye of the Beholder, cross cultural lessons in leadership from project GLOBE, Mansour Javidan, Peter W. Dorfma, etc), Jack’s own lack of experience on project management made it is possible for the project to diverge from previous direction under one person’s leadership.

Question 3: What alternatives exist at this point? In Andrew’s position, what would you do? Why? Based on the development of the event, the possible scenarios are 1) The dispute is taken to the JV Committee and Ellen is expelled from the group, taking the blame of being the ineffective leader; 2) recruiting new consultants for the project who have the required qualification and skills to do the job; 3) Jack is replaced by other consultant from JVI with relative more experience in project management. 4) Ellen and Jack communicate the problem and find a way to compromise. For Andrew, under the obligation of the agreement with Korean company, if the tension between Ellen and Jack cannot be comprehend by the Korean side without the possible biases towards female leadership, then Andrew could consider to promote Scott to the position to have direct communication with Jack.

Ellen stays in the project continuing contributing but with Scott as the speaking representative for SCG side. Andrew can also propose a official recognition being made from the above senior management team for Ellen to clearly state her authority towards the junior consultants, and a division of Jack and Ellen’s duty should be draw and a manifest “who to report” system made for the team. This can minimize chances of having “stepping upon each other’s territory” problem.

However, regarding to the delayed process of the project, that is not a problem that can be tackled in short-term, the hierarchy that existed with the clients should be respect, but at the meantime, start to build a mutually trust long-term relationship should be recognized by the SI project team. Therefore, Andrew either has to motivate the higher management such as Mr. Cho and Mr. Song to organizing frequent social event with the client or has to start to hunt recruiting liaison personals that used to working in the competitor company and have a professional connection with the client company.

Question 4: What changes would you recommended making for future global consulting project teams?

1.From management perspective, it is crucial to have a clear vision setting for the project also a detailed guidance for the task, so as to prevent the potential divergence of project direction and loaded the team with unnecessary and time consuming tasks that will yield little result.

2. On the organization structure setting, for the expatriated employees, it is necessary to have a direct supporting management that he/she can report to or exchange opinion with, and that supporting management executive should be easily accessible and aware of the in-time progress of the project.

3.Expats in the global team need to build up a connection with local employees and co-workers, and need to be perceived as a part of the group instead of an outsider. In addition, expats need to accept the way that Korean conducting business, and do not presume what should be a “more effective way” of doing business.

4.From the aspect of building relationship with clients, in a context such as South Korean, accept the hierarchical order and establishing a social connection is important. Try to avoid behaving for one’s own interest, and instead, demonstrating the relationship is mutually beneficial. 5.Even though the conflicts between the two cultures gets obvious and sever, publicly confrontation and seeking judgment is not a good approach to resolve the problem.

Question 5: what is the role and importance of national culture in this context? Which value differences created problems? Culture has a profound impact on preferences for leadership styles and management systems, perception of authority, organizational fairness, interpersonal relationships, communication and expectations about organizations and co-workers, and many other organizationally relevant outcomes. (Three decades of research on national culture in the workplace: Do the differences still make a difference? Vas Taras, Pier Steel , Bradley L.Kirkman).

South Korea is considered as a country with traditional Confucian values mix with western lifestyle habits. The Graph below is a comparison of U.S and South Korea culture from the common nine dimensions model that used in the GLOBE Project (In the Eye of the Beholder, cross cultural lessons in leadership from project GLOBE, Mansour Javidan, Peter W. Dorfma, etc), in general, the two cultures are illustrating variance in aspects such as uncertainty, gender, power distance, in-group and social collectivism.

In the case of Ellen Moore, the differences are fully illustrated in those mentioned aspect expect for uncertainty avoidance. Especially the power distance, the Korean tradition of holding respect to authority and hierarchy internally resulted in the inefficient communication and dictated decision making, also attributed to the power distribution conflicts between two leaders of the project. Externally, given that there were no long-term business relation exist before JVI won the contact, the hierarchy of clients made the information collecting process inefficient, and even influencing the team performance by giving unreasonable requests.

Question 6: How would taking a class such as this help Ellen Moore? What would you have done differently given what you know about culture? Taking an organization behavior class will help Ellen understand the root of cultural differences, the intrinsic reasons behind all the culturally distinct behaviors that appears in a global setting work place, so as to effectively resolve cultural conflicts issues or even avoid them. From the study of national cultural and the value effects on organizational behavior, global team leaders like Ellen Moore will actively develop essential attributes like global mindset, tolerance to high level of ambiguity and cultural adaptability and flexibility.

It was clear that Ellen had experience in global team environment and had actively prepared for the cultural adapting process in South Korea by paying attention to mannerism, learning language and business etiquette. But in behavior level, what she did not realize in this joint venture program was that raising awareness to other culture is not enough, she needs to also tell the host country employees and co-workers about her own cultures, this exchange of understanding among management executives could dispel misunderstanding, mitigate the tension that Jack hold regarding Ellen’s power trespassing behavior.

In addition, Ellen should also give a thought on how to bridge the gap between the cultures after knowing where the differences are. She should demonstrate to the employee that showing encouragement and compliment to work well done are not necessarily interpreted as weak leadership in American Culture. What is the most, opinion towards one’s professional work does not necessary linked to the personal judgment of that person, even when it is a negative comment.

Updated: Feb 22, 2021
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Ellen Moore: Living and Working in Korea. (2017, Jan 19). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/ellen-moore-living-and-working-in-korea-essay

Ellen Moore: Living and Working in Korea essay
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