In a case study seminar put together by the Korea Business Leaders' Alliance (KBLA) at the Grand Hyatt in Seoul on Feb. 5, a worker's strike, a factory fire, and a lack of intra-company communication were laid before 20+ experienced expatriate businessmen. This unique event shone a light on the business expertise available in the city and in the expat community as a whole.
The case study was theoretical, but the problems presented were all too believable in a country that has gained an international reputation for the strength of its workers' unions. In the scenario presented, a sit-in workers' strike led to a physical clash, damaged equipment, and a probable disruption of the company's production schedule. The question put towards the KBLA members was simple – what would you do in this situation?
The attending businessmen were able to provide unique insights into the particular challenges of the scenario within the Korean marketplace. For instance, the pharmaceutical-producing company was prevented from pursuing several possible solutions due to the Korea Food and Drug Administration's strict policies on drug imports, production, and distribution. Many of the guests offered real-world examples of actual distribution problems that they had solved during their careers in Korea.
For instance, some pointed out that since the pharmaceutical production market is so well-developed in the country, there would not be a problem finding replacement equipment for what had been damaged, as long as the company was willing to reach out to its competitors. Others added that in times of crisis, companies in the country would most likely be willing to help each other out.
Also, in light of other recent quality-control problems appearing in the Korean market, consensus was reached that total, immediate honesty was necessary with consumers, rather than to possibly compromise product quality in order to continue production.
The issue of communication with the head office in another country was also discussed at length. Most of the KBLA members said that they would choose to be in the process of fixing the problem before communicating with the head office. This decision was also influenced by knowledge of Korean regulations, which does not allow pharmaceutical imports without a lengthy certification process.
In the end, while the scenario was theoretical, the skills and experience brought to the table were real, showing that the KBLA can be a very valuable resource for its members.