Guidelines for Effective Negotiations with Korean Managers: A Conceptual Analysis

By Lee, Jonathan C. | International Journal of Management, March 2005 | Go to article overview

Guidelines for Effective Negotiations with Korean Managers: A Conceptual Analysis


Lee, Jonathan C., International Journal of Management


Negotiation is a skill that can be learned, and the party that is better prepared will have the advantage. This is particularly true in the global arena where the complexity of cross-cultural variable lends itself to numerous styles of persuasion and tactics. In preparing to negotiate with the Koreans, one must understand the negotiating style of their Korean counterpart. They must discern what behavior is a result of their cultural upbringing and what behavior is deliberate negotiating tactics.

Introduction

Many individuals are not aware of it, but South Korea (Korea) is the 11 th largest economy in the world in terms of gross national product and the 13th largest trading country (4). It has been and it is one of the fastest exporting economies in the world. In the last 36 years, on average annual basis, Korea's export grew 22.4 percent per year (4). This is the highest rate of export growth for the top 20 exporting countries (4). Korea's trade is now the third largest among Asian countries, only after Japan and China, which now includes Hong Kong (4).

Consumers around the world know some of the chaebols or conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai, SK, LG, Kia and others not realizing that they are Korean companies. Some of these companies are the largest producer and exporter of memory chips as well as largest shipbuilders in the world. These conglomerates produce wide range of products such as home electronics (TV, DVD, Computers, etc.), mobile phones, machineries, and cars. Korean conglomerates have been extremely successful in carving out market shares in Europe, Asia, and North America. Yet there appears to be limited information regarding Korean culture in general and specifically, Korean business practices. This is in due large part to giants next door like Japan and China, which have much larger population and visibility than Korea. These countries have historically overshadowed Korea. Consequently, many outsiders do not understand and appreciate the differences that exist between Korea and its neighbors. It is not uncommon to treat Koreans similarly to Japanese and Chinese. Outsiders do not appreciate that Korea has over 5,000 years of history behind its nationhood. Unfortunately, the lack of understanding about Koreans in general and Korean business practices in particular have led to difficulty for both Koreans and those that do business with Korean companies. One of the area that is not well understood, but critical to doing business with Korean companies is understanding the negotiation process and the underpinnings that make up the negotiation process. The uniqueness of the Korean negotiation process is reflection of its unique culture, which has evolved over thousands of years.

Preparation for Negotiation

Negotiation is the process in which at least two parties with different needs and viewpoints try to reach an agreement on matters of mutual interest. It is one of the most important skills in business transaction. Negotiation is a skill that can be learned, and the party that is better prepared will have the advantage over their counterpart. This is particularly true in the global arena where the complexity of cross-cultural variable lends itself to numerous styles of persuasion and tactics. In preparing to negotiate with the Koreans, one must first understand their own negotiating style and what aspects of their negotiating approach are appropriate in dealing with the Koreans. Further, one must understand the negotiating style of their Korean counterpart. They must discern what behavior is a result of their cultural upbringings and what behavior is deliberate negotiating tactics.

In preparing to negotiate with the Koreans, it is important to conduct thorough research on all relevant aspects of the deal. Koreans will utilize their extensive business contacts to obtain information about their foreign counterparts. Korea is a nation of net workers; thus, it is common for Korean companies to share information about their foreign counterparts. …

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