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Sk Telecom Essay

744 words - 3 pages

SK TELECOM GOES EGALITARIAN IN A HIERARCHICAL SOCIETY

Until recently, Hur Jae-hoon could end debate with junior staff members just by declaring that the dis- cussion was over. Employed at the fourth tier in SK Telecom Co.’s five-tier management/professional hi- erarchy, the 33-year-old strategist held the corre- sponding title of “Hur Daeri” and received plenty of respect from people in lower positions. No one be- low Hur was allowed to question his decisions, and Hur was expected to silently comply with requests from above. South Korea’s culture of deferring to people in higher positions was deeply ingrained in the telecommunications company. In some South Korean companies, such as ...view middle of the document...

The junior staff suggested that allowing customers to change their cell phone ringtones to music chosen by the friend they’ve phoned would generate revenue through music licensing. Fortunately, the idea was in- troduced several months later, after a few persistent employees proposed the idea again.
SK Telecom’s initiative is not completely new to South Korea. Small high-tech companies already em- brace egalitarian values and flatter corporate structures. But SK Telecom is among the first large firms in the country to attempt this culture shift, and it has met with resistance along the way. SK Telecom executives were initially divided over how quickly and to what extent the company should distance itself from South Korea’s traditional hierarchical culture. “There were ideas for gradual versus all-out reforms,” recalls chief executive Kim Shin-bae. “But the word ‘gradually’ means ‘not now’ to some people. So we decided to go all-out.”
According to a company survey, 80 percent of emp- loyees support the changes. However, even with the changes in titles, many still look for subtle evidence of who has higher status and, therefore, should receive more deference. Some also rely on what positions managers held under the old five-tier hierarchy. “I know what the old titles were,” says an LG...

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