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Cultural Differences in Business: Korean and Australian

Case Study: Swan Song

A potential partnership
Korea is a prime market for beef exporters. Grazing space for cattle in Korea is non-existent, so beef is not raised locally. As a result, beef is scarce in Korea and Koreans are willing to pay a premium for even the smallest morsel. Seok, a Korean beef importer, is looking for a foreign cattle rancher with which to partner.
Mallee Cattle, an Australian beef producer, has investigated several websites on Korean cuisine. Mallee's owner discovered Koreans have a popular and widely consumed traditional beef dish called pulgogi, made with thinly sliced beef. Mallee can thinly slice its beef prior to exporting it to Korea. This is a win-win proposition as the Australian company will not have to pay the shipping costs of exporting the beef bones with the meat, and the Korean company will get its beef ready-to-use.
Through mutual business associates, Seok and Mallee made contact. Mallee's owner and his son arranged to travel to Korea to meet with Seok to discuss the possibility of a partnership. Seok invited Mallee out to dinner to discuss business.

The business meeting
The Mallee cattle owner and his son arrived on time for a 7:00 pm dinner meeting with the Seok owner and his company manager at a local English-speaking restaurant. Other than a few simple greetings, the cattle owner and his son did not speak or understand Korean. The Seok owner's grasp of the English language was quite good. The cattle owner presented both Koreans with an ornately carved and painted boomerang, which they accepted after an initial refusal. At the start of the meal, the Koreans asked if both men had graduated from University, and they queried the father and son on their marital status. The Australians openly answered their questions. The Mallee cattle owner and his son made repeated efforts to discuss the potential partnership with Seok during the meal. The Seok businessmen kept turning the conversation back to personal questions on age, salary and religion.

Toward the end of the meal, the Seok owner asked the Mallee owner to sing solo. The Mallee owner declined, saying he did not want to scare them off with his terrible singing. To the relief of the Australians, the Seok owner and his company manager began to talk business when the coffee arrived. However, the Koreans remained non-committal and by the end of the evening no partnership agreement had been made. When it was time to leave, the Seok owner offered to pay for the meal. The Mallee owner politely accepted.

A disappointing outcome

After two weeks of calling the Seok owner with no response, the Mallee cattle owner is ready to give up and is considering pursuing a partnership with a different Korean beef importer.

1. Why is secondary research on the Internet the best way for Mallee to find out more about the Korean market? 2. What issues in product adaptation may have prompted Mallee to consider thinly slicing their beef before exporting it to Korea?
3. What should the Mallee owner and his son have done better to prepare for the business meeting in Korea?
4. What can Mallee do to salvage its relationship with Seok?

Solution Preview

1. Why is secondary research on the Internet the best way for Mallee to find out more about the Korean market?

Secondary research is gathering further data gained from primary research and using that information to gain more insight into a company. Primary research can be done via interviews, questionnaires and observations and is usually the preliminary glimpse into an organization while secondary research is generally done via published statistics, published texts, and the media. It is the process of gathering actual data such as annual reports, historical financial information about the company and analysis of the company as done by others.

For Mallee, now that they have done their primary research by looking at websites on Korean cuisine and have met and observed the individuals at Seok, it would be beneficial for them to do further secondary research into Seok as an organization including their place within the Korean market as well as other organizations that deal in the same markets as Seok.

2. What issues in product adaptation may have prompted Mallee to consider thinly slicing their beef before exporting it to Korea?

Product adaptation is the practice of taking a current product and adapting or changing it to meet market or consumer demands. For example, Mallee took their original product, quality beef, and used the knowledge they gathered through primary research and adapted their product to make it more ...

Solution Summary

A discussion regarding a specific case study including elements such as partnerships, business meetings, secondary research, product adapatation and cultural differences between an Australian company and a Korean company. 851 words, 2 references.