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Harvard MBA Introduces CJ E&M Chairman’s Venture Success
CJ Recognized by Harvard
Harvard MBA Introduces CJ E&M Chairman’s Venture Success
  • By matthew
  • March 23, 2015, 07:45
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Korean pop artists on the stage at KCON 2012, on Oct. 13. (Photo by Peter Kaminski via Wikimedia Commons)
Korean pop artists on the stage at KCON 2012, on Oct. 13. (Photo by Peter Kaminski via Wikimedia Commons)


The CJ Group, Asia’s number one content and media company, has produced class materials for Harvard Business School with its successful investment on KCON, an annual K-Pop convention held in the United States.

A Harvard Business Case Study examines the process of the birth of KCON, the first ever large-scale convention dedicated to “All Things Hallyu,” which became an initiative of K-wave export, and the story how CJ E&M decided to repeat the event, accepting a risky deficit from the first year.

This article, “CJ E&M: Creating a K-Culture in the U.S.,” contains the venture story of Chairman Jay Lee of the South Korean conglomerate CJ Group, who tried to take Korean cultural content to the West. Since he started his entertainment and media business in S. Korea building CGV multiplexes, the Korean film market has grown 3 times, increasing its market share from 25 percent to 60 percent within 6 years.

The case book starts with a dream of the chairman: “I have a dream that one day world citizens see two to three Korean movies a year, eat Korean food one or two times a month, watch one or two Korean TV programs every week, and listen to one or two Korean songs every day.”

The case study, co-written by Elie Ofek, professor of Harvard Business School, and Kim Sang-hoon, professor of Seoul Business School, was discussed in the Owner President Management course attended by more than 300 CEOs last Thursday.

Professor Ofek set a task for students to decide, using the same information that Chairman Jay Lee had, whether or not to invest in KCON 2013, since KCON 2012 lost money, despite a robust turnout expanding its scale beyond 2012's US$1.1 million budget.

KCON 2012 was a deliberate success in targeting the right consumer layer, American teens who were all passionate fans of Hallyu. Effectively utilizing digital marketing, CJ E&C sold two times more tickets than anticipated.

After having a heated debate, most executive students who are either the founders of medium enterprises or CEOs, voted for the chairman's decision to make a long-term investment to lead the next KCON to promote the globalization of Korean pop culture in the U.S.

The vice president of the CJ Group said that the participants were interested in the entrepreneurship of a private company which was passionately devoted to spreading a nation's culture and art abroad.

This is the first time for Harvard Business School to introduce the Korean cultural content business in a case study, though it frequently quoted some successful Korean manufacturing firms.

CJ predicts that the recent case study can be linked to other chances for international MBA Schools to adopt CJ’s story for their class materials.

The chairman said, “Cultural industry is the kernel of economic growth. Korea will develop and produce trend-setting content for global society.” His faith motivated his company to move on to globalize Korean pop culture while risking a deficit.