The culture of Korean industry: an ethnography of Poongsan Corporation

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University of Arizona Press, 1992 - Business & Economics - 248 pages
As Americans become more conscious of trade competition from Japan, Korea looms large as another source of high-quality goods. What accounts for Korea's ability to compete in foreign markets, and what distinguishes it from its island neighbor?
Anthropologist Choong Soon Kim sheds light on this question through an ethnography of Poongsan Corporation, a metals manufacturer in South Korea. Through this single case, Kim shows how Korean values, ethics, and other cultural traits such as kinship networks are translated into organizational structure and economic life. Confucian in origin yet distinctly Korean, these values help account for that country's recent economic development.
Kim's study is based on personal observation at Poongsan and on interviews with both labor and management, and also draws on a variety of company documents. During his fieldwork, Kim witnessed a prolonged strike at the company, which lent additional insight into corporate behavior.
Despite Korea's adaptation of Japanese models of modernization, distinctive traits of Japanese industry were not found by Kim to be clearly evident at Poongsan. His book thus reveals characteristics of Korean industry that have never before been documented, offering scholars and professionals in a number of fields an opportunity to better understand one of our most important trade partners.

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Contents

Introduction
3
The Founder of Poongsan and His Managerial Worldview
30
The Characteristics of Poongsan Employees
67
Copyright

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About the author (1992)

Kim is University Faculty Scholar and Professor of Anthropology, The University of Tennessee at Martin.