Samsung to reform authoritarian culture to act like startup

SEOUL, South Korea : Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of phones, memory chips and television sets, plans to revamp its authoritarian, top-down corporate culture to become more like a lean startup as it copes with sluggish demand and growing competition.

The company said Thursday its executives and workers pledged to reduce hierarchical practices, unnecessary meetings and excessive working hours in a “Startup Samsung” ceremony held Thursday at its headquarters in Suwon, South Korea.

The first step in this new culture of flexibility? Requiring all its executives to sign a statement promising to scrap the company’s traditional authoritarian ways.

Samsung is searching for new business strategies as a father-to-son leadership transition looms. Lee Jae-yong, 48, is expected to succeed his ailing father, Lee Kun-hee, at a time when Samsung’s mainstay semiconductor and phone businesses face intensifying competition from Chinese rivals. Samsung has its eye on expanding into health care and pharmaceuticals, but has responded slowly to hot Silicon Valley trends such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.

“By starting to reform the corporate culture, it means we will execute quickly, seek open communication culture and continue to innovate as a startup company,” Samsung said in a statement.

Samsung says it has been trying to reform its very Korean corporate culture to suit its identity as a global company and to answer criticisms that it stifles creativity and grassroots input from workers. Like most Korean companies, its management tends to mirror the authoritarian ways of South Korea’s past, when a military dictator ruled the country.

-more at Japan Today

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