Why Samsung Pays Its Stars to Goof Off
By Nicholas Varchaver
Samsung had a problem. Its culture was static and inward-looking. Then, in the early 1990s, Lee Kun-Hee, chairman of the South Korean electronics giant, made a decision that would reshape his organization and create a blueprint for globalization.
He sent a handful of the brightest young employees to far-away corners of the globe to immerse themselves in the culture, learn the language, and build networks so that someday Samsung would know how to supply those markets. What an amazing investment in the future.
Today Samsung has become one of the most well-known and far-reaching brands on the planet. It’s a lesson many U.S. corporations could heed. Americans are often missing in action when it comes to global business. Germany’s exports per capita are almost four times higher than those of the U.S. The Netherlands government has sponsored a program somewhat similar to Lee’s: It sends retired Dutch executives to countries, companies, and projects around the world. These globetrotters then source valuable opportunities for the mothership.
Talk about “Act local, think global.”