Contextual Considerations in Organization Development with Reference to the Context of South Korea: Analysis of Individuals’ Perceptions at Different Levels of an Organization

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Young Sun Lee


The complex global environment forces enterprises to change themselves in order to achieve sustainable competitive advantage through the commitment of their employees (Meaney and Pung, 2008; Bond Baker, 2009). In particular, Korean companies that have hitherto achieved rapid growth have faced the challenge of changing their organizational culture with the aim of improving their global competitiveness (Choi, 2012). In this respect, this research has been undertaken with the main aim of helping to inform more successful organization development (OD) by exploring contextual considerations in OD in the context of South Korea, based on analysis of individuals’ perceptions at different levels of an organization. This research adopts a qualitative methodology approach as the way forward to attain the answers to a set of research questions. In particular, it selects a single case study design in order to explore in depth how employees at different levels perceive the same change initiative driven in the same context. Thus, the researcher purposively selected 37 interviewees at different levels of the organization for semi-structured interviews. Findings show that individuals at all levels commonly perceived three cultural characteristics as difficulties in relation to change initiative: a hierarchy-based Confucian culture, an excessively result-oriented culture based on short-termism and the tendency of leaders to adhere to their opinions. It is found that given these perceptions regarding their change context, they were confused by a dual message from their company, even if the change content was designed based on a humanistic approach. This is because the message from the extremely hierarchical culture of a Korean conglomerate runs contrary to the change message based on a humanistic approach. In this respect, it is suggested that OD practitioners need enterprise-wide initiatives for all levels of leaders to work together to weaken the prevailing message of the hierarchical culture for successful OD. In addition, a change approach that takes into account the circumstances and characteristics of individuals at each level is needed, providing people with opportunities to practise the new way of change through participating in the change intervention.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2018