Korean Conglomerates (Chaebol) in Times of Crisis

Lecture | November 18 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Rebecca Chunghee Kim, Professor, College of International Management, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

 Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), Center for Korean Studies (CKS)

This research investigates responses of the international and domestic (South Korean) publics to one of the most hotly debated corporate scandals in recent years: Korean Air’s so-called nut rage incident. By analyzing both international and domestic media coverage of the occurrence, we reveal contrasting interpretations between the two. Whereas the South Korean public tends to generate intense debates addressing a lack of ethics in Korean Air’s public communication following the incident, international public criticism is dominated by questions regarding South Korea’s chronic chaebol system and its negative image in relation to South Korea’s unique institutional context. Korean Air’s incongruent notice of the employee as a key stakeholder is also discussed in the international media. The research findings indicate how, rather than focusing on legal responsibility, the normative attitude of businesses toward stakeholder pressures is crucial as a means of escaping legitimacy-threatening events. The results of this study demonstrate how public responses to a single incident are diverse in global society and offer new insights regarding the importance of ethics in management leadership and public communication after a crisis incident.

Rebecca Chunghee Kim is Professor at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) in Japan. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS),UC Berkeley. Her research at IEAS focuses on “Varieties of Capitalism and CSR: East Asia and the World.” Prior to entering academia, she worked in the fields of foreign diplomacy, government, and the NGO and CSR consulting business. As a British-Chevening Scholar, she completed her MIM and PhD at the University of Strathclyde. Rebecca has published works in high-profile journals such as Journal of Business Research, Journal of Business Ethics, European Journal of International Management, Asian Business & Management and Business Horizons.

 ieas@berkeley.edu, 510-643-6536