In early 2016, Samil PricewaterhouseCoopers embarked on an ambitious undertaking to conduct a survey to gather the views of business executives from foreign-invested companies doing business in Korea. The goal was to capture different perspectives and experiences but with a view towards identifying common themes.
Our survey was formatted as a questionnaire primarily comprised of open-ended questions as opposed to traditional rating scales and ranking questions. This allowed us ask more thought-provoking questions and encouraged the participants to elaborate on their responses.
The survey was written to cover four topics: market outlook, workforce, regulatory environment, and culture. In the end, the assortment of responses obtained were as interesting and colorful as they were informative and insightful.
In total, 73 foreign executives participated in the survey: the respondents represented a diverse range of industries based in 16 different countries located in North America, Europe and Asia (including Australia). 45% of the respondents were based in Europe, 40% in North America, and 15% in Asia Pacific. The executives came from a wide range of industries, spanning from financial services to manufacturing.
The following is a summary of the key takeaways from the survey:
While it is important acknowledge that this survey provides valuable insight into Korean business environment to potential foreign investors and firms, it should not be misinterpreted as a representation of the collective views of all foreign business executives in Korea.
The survey highlighted key areas of Korean business environment that foreign executives found attractive, such as strong work ethic and current dynamic market. It also shed some light on the critical challenges of conducting a business in Korea including the language barrier and rigid regulatory environment.
Henry An, Samil PwC Partner and Inbound Leader, says:
“Korea clearly remains a relevant market for foreign investors and continues to attract foreign investment. To the extent that Korea can continue to leverage its inherent strength and improve on areas identified as shortcomings, it appears that Korea will be well positioned to become an even more attractive place to do business and entice further foreign direct investment in the future.”