A Conversation Driving Culture Change at Samsung Semiconductor
Dr. Ho-Kyoon Chung and Grant Gustafson Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., since its foundation in 1969, has developed a broad range of electronics and related items from semiconductors and finished home appliances to telecommunications hardware and multimedia products. A listed company on the Korean Stock Exchange, Samsung Electronics’ sales reached US$20 billion in 1996. Samsung Semiconductor, the largest of Samsung Electronics’ four core business divisions, is one of the world’s leading semiconductor makers. In 1995, Arthur D. Little conducted a corporate assessment of Samsung Semiconductor in Korea. The assessment delivered one essential message – while the company’s historical
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The Samsung/Arthur D. Little core team adopted a comprehensive approach to uncovering the crucial issues hindering achievement of the key cultural characteristics. An Unwritten Rules of the Game™ analysis focused on management behavior, while employee focus groups established employee stakeholder needs and critical „satisfaction gaps.“ Bringing these analyses together, the core team was able to model in a systemic fashion the interrelationships among prominent organizational behaviors and clearly identify the leveraged opportunities for change within the system. The core team uncovered many cultural issues that hinder achievement of Samsung Semiconductor’s business objectives and identified a „short list“ of critical cultural objectives that presented disproportionate opportunity for future business success. For example, one critical objective for the company is to convert managers from a „task master“ (or command-and-control) orientation to a coaching orientation. Based on a thorough analysis of the company’s people management and development processes, 11 key implementation initiatives were developed to address Samsung’s high-priority change objectives. Samsung Semiconductor has adopted these implementation initiatives and is moving forward to create the cultural foundation needed to ensure long-term business success. For example, senior executives and managers have recently been through a new intensive course on employee evaluation and development skills.