Search
Mobile World Congress - Day 1
Visitors look at the new Samsung Galaxy S7 on the opening day of the World Mobile Congress on Feb. 22, 2016, in Barcelona.  Photograph by David Ramos — Getty Images

Samsung Says It Wants To Act Like A Startup

Mar 24, 2016

Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest maker of smartphones and memory chips, announced on Thursday that it plans to adopt a corporate culture akin to a startup, seeking to become more nimble as growth slows.

Samsung's executives will sign a pledge to move away from a top-down culture and towards a working environment that fosters open dialog.

The flagship firm of South Korea's dominant conglomerate will also reduce the number of levels in its staff hierarchy and hold more frequent online discussions between business division heads and employees.

"We aim to reform our internal culture, execute as quickly as a startup company and push towards open communication and continuously innovate," it said in a statement.

The pronouncement is the latest among sweeping changes attempted at a time of crisis by the conglomerate and carries echoes of a 1993 exhortation by Samsung Group patriarch Lee Kun-hee to executives to "change everything but your wife and children."

Hurt by a rapid decline in smartphone profits and the absence of new businesses to drive growth, Samsung has been under pressure to reform its military-style working culture to foster innovation.

Some current and former employees say it will be difficult for a company like Samsung, which has global headcount of more than 300,000, to transform itself. Analysts also say there is the risk of Samsung losing its edge as a fast-execution hardware company by attempting to change its ways.

Lee has been hospitalized since a 2014 heart attack, and the group is in the midst of a transition to control by his son, Jay Y. Lee.

Other moves in recent years to ease a rigid corporate culture include flexible working hours, a loosening of dress code requirements for weekend work and less pressure on employees to attend after-work drinking sessions that have long been a staple of Korean corporate life.

Samsung said it will also cut down on unnecessary internal meetings and simplify reporting procedures in order to improve productivity and offer training to employees to strengthen their "winning spirit."

It will also reduce unnecessary overtime and weekend work and push employees to spend time with their families or take advantage of learning opportunities.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions