Ellen Moore (A): Living and Working in Korea

Posted: September 4th, 2013


Ellen Moore (A): Living and Working in Korea






Moore (A): Living and Working in Korea


The essay is about a female consultant, posted to South Korea, to work as a project management representative, on a project between a North American company and a Korean company. A North American company, Western Systems Inc. (WSI) had acquired a project with a Korean company Korean Conglomerate Inc. (KCI). The two companies formed a Joint Venture Inc. Ellen Moore, who works as a Systems Consulting Group (SCG) consultant in the WSI, was appointed by Andrew Kilpatrick to co-manage the System Implementation project alongside Jack Kim, who was the project manager for the Korean company. Andrew chose Ellen because she had international experience, upon working in Bahrain and on two successful projects in America.


On reaching Korea, Ellen realized that the Koreans had less skill than she had expected, despite the fact that three North American SCG consultants had been involved for the past seven months, on passing the expertise needed, to the Korean consultants. Tensions immediately arose between Ellen and Jack, upon who was in charge. Jack wanted to do a market research, which Ellen insisted would delay the project. The Korean consultants refused to take directions from Ellen. Due to this, the project lagged a month behind schedule. The problem Ellen faced was to complete the project on schedule without help from Korean consultants. The company could stand to lose the contract. Andrew would stand accountable, as he was the one in charge of the project. As the company had received wide media coverage, upon contracting the project, it could stand losing the trust of other clients. The problems arise due to the cross-cultural diversity, according to the Hofstede’s Framework. In relation to the Hofstede’s Framework, the difference in the two cultural groups can be classified into:

  1. Power Distance

This is whereby less powerful individual accept that power is an equally distributed. Subordinates expect to be told what to do. The study shows that South Korea at a score of 60 has this attribute. In the case of Ellen, the Korean consultants refuse to take orders from Ellen because they recognize Jack as the boss. Jack refuses to collaborate with Ellen and this makes it harder.

  1. Collectivism

This is the interdependence individuals in a society have among themselves. People belong in groups that take care of them in exchange for loyalty. At a score of 18, South Korea is considered a collectivist society. In the case of Ellen and Jack, the Korean consultants maintained their loyalty to Jack by refusing to take orders from Ellen, as the two were not getting along. When Ellen received a memo from Andrew on what to do, she would hand it over to Jack. Jack instead gave the Korean consultants different instructions. As the lead Korean consultant, the other Korean consultants followed his instructions. Ellen’s words “We had a very difficult time to carry out work as we requested” explain how hard it would be to work with Korean consultants. Another characteristic of collectivism is seen whereby diplomas provide high entry to high status groups. Ellen discovers that Jack has never worked on a systems implementation project or on a consulting project. Jack had acquired the position because he had a Ph.D. In computer systems, that he had attained at a reputable American university, and he spoke English fluently.

  1. Gender and Diversity in Organisations

Korea did not have many accomplished women, as it had started accepting western civilization. This is reflected in Ellen and Jack’s case. Jack has refused to take directions from Ellen, despite her having the required expertise. Upon arriving from a trip, he finds that the Korean consultants are taking directions from Ellen, instead of him. Ellen had initially been informed that she and Andrew would be co-managers. He is annoyed and makes a speech at dinner in Korean, without taking into consideration that Ellen is present at the dinner. He also directs the translator to stop translating for Ellen. She decides the situation had become delicate and seeks help from her superior Andrew. The Korean superiors insist that Ellen is the problem and that she has failed to do her work properly.

  1. Feminism

Feminism is a societal attribute whereby value is placed on interpersonal harmony, care for others and high-quality relationships. On Jack’s speech at a dinner, he humbles himself before the Korean consultants and apologizes for not performing well on his duties, “I understood he was humbling himself to the team”. The Koreans immediately take his side. They console and tell him that he was a good leader. South Korea has ranked as a feminist society. This would make it difficult for Ellen to work with the team members. The attribute is also reflected by the Korean seniors, when they that Ellen was the problem and that she was not performing her work well.


In relation to the Hofstede’s study, the key problem is the diversity between the two cultures and hence miscommunication. The communication between is limited by the different languages and the different cultures. Jack feels threatened by Ellen and diverges from the objective of the work, by assigning different work to the consultants. He should seek advice from Ellen as she has the required expertise, where else Ellen should seek help from him on communicating with the Korean consultants. The two companies had not formed a firm relationship in terms of cultural diversities and hence had differences.



Chantell, N., & Gail, E. (2000). Ellen Moore (A): Living and Working in Korea. Ivey Management Services.




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