Social harmony and stability have been described as almost inborn aspects of Korean corporations dating far back in history. After the East Asian economic crisis in 1997 most Korean organizations, however faced new demands for productivity and competitiveness. The fragile balance between social harmony and individual competition, in some Korean corporations led to social negotiation and struggles to define the aim and character of the collective effort. By describing the subsequent social dynamics of a Korean bank corporation, the purpose of this paper is to show how the perception of group harmony as a stabile entity in East Asian organizations is too static for analyzing the social organization. Rather, the dynamics of the continuous production and reproduction of social structures have to be taken into account in order to understand working life in Korean organizations.
Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, 2006, Vol 24, p. 33-55