Case ID: 97G029     Solution ID: 37106     Words: 919 Price $ 45

Ellen Moore (A): Living and Working in Korea Case Solution


For any global venture, culture assumes a huge part as we are managing an alternate situation and an alternate esteem framework. Subsequently, on account of Ellen Moore, a comprehension and regard for neighborhood culture and standards would prompt to more powerful treatment of the venture. The Korean experts would be more spurred in their work if their American partners show their regard for neighborhood traditions, incorporating business behavior in South Korea. Subsequently, the part of principals and different partners is essential to the accomplishment of the venture in a remote land.

One of the biggest challenges is the communication barrier. One of the main causes for communication barriers is cultural diversity. The American culture is known to have a very direct and explicit communication which does not expect the listener to read between the lines or interpret the context.

Showing respect to a teacher/superior implies to not ask questions to avoid offending the speaker by implying that the teaching is not well done and that the group cannot follow the subject taught. In this case the cultural behavior of the Korean consultants is causing major problems. Since the knowledge of the Korean consultants is by far not as enhanced as the knowledge of the American counterparts, Scott is trying to give the consultants instructions how to tackle certain problems and how to structure the project, but is not able to confirm if these instructions were understood or if more explanations are needed. In addition, this cultural behavior is reducing the consultants' ability to openly communicate with their superiors such as Scott, Ellen, Jack and the client and speak freely about concerns, questions or better solutions they might have. Another communication barrier can be recognized in regards to gender. In Confucianism the male-female relationship is equal to superior-subordinate relationship. This causes major tension in the communication between Ellen and Jack since his norms and values might have led him to devalue the authority of Ellen's input. This might explain why he is holding meetings without inviting Ellen and his refusal to use Ellen's memo she prepared detailing the progress during her absence. Since Ellen is not speaking the Korean language and needs to rely on a translator, her ability to manage the team effectively and her understanding of different nuances in the Korean language are decreased and sometimes even diminished. Missing language skills is the third major communication barrier in this case which becomes very apparent at the dinner when Jack makes a very passive-aggressive speech in Korean.

Even if a suitable replacement for Ellen could be found, the person would need time to get up to speed and additional expenses would occur for the relocation package of the new person and a severance payment or relocation package for Ellen who would need to move to another project which most probably would be in a different country. This could possibly damage Andrew's leadership and reputation. On the other hand, removing Jack from the project team would not be received well by the Korean consultants and the management team and the cultural differences would increasingly prohibit the project from succeeding.

The 2nd alternative would be to keep sthe tatus quo and leave the team as it is and let the situation take care of itself. The assumption here would be that Ellen has adjusted to different cultures in prior assignments and might be the best person to get the team back on track. The advantage of this solution would be that no initial cost is required and everybody continues in their role without major interruptions. The drawback with this solution is that this alternative is very risky. The team has already reached a point where action needs to be taken. The work environment and the tension between Ellen and Jack did not improve over the last weeks and additional resources will be needed to keep the project on track.

The ultimate alternative, in this case, is to restructure and redefine the team. Ellen should be the sole team leader in regards to tasks, deadlines, and milestones. Jack should be assigned to a specialized role on the consulting team, so that on the one hand his technical expertise is still available if needed, but on the other hand, his control as a leader is decreased significantly, so he cannot interfere with the workflow of the team anymore. In order to make the restructuring of the team successful, Ellen should address the above-mentioned challenges one by one, to ensure the highest possible success rate. In order to address the communication issue and the high-power distance work environment, she should establish an environment, where team members can anonymously state their opinion, ask questions or introduce new solutions to problems the team is currently facing. 

For certain specialized tasks, subgroups should be created to make sure the high-power distance work environment can be decreased and different viewpoints and ideas can arise from free discussions. This solution will improve team functionality and eliminate time lost on tasks not related to the project, preventing further delays.

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Questions Covered

1- Critical Success Factors
2- Conclusion