Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Book review: Samsung Rising, Geoffrey Cain (2020)

I bought this volume at Gleebooks for the recommended retail price.

Cain had been writing stories about Samsung, the diversified manufacturer, for many years before he decided to write this book, though signally the company wouldn’t cooperate with him in the latter endeavour. Cain yet found many people willing to talk with him, some on the record and some not.

The company had nothing to fear in my case as apart from the Ellen De Generes selfie that made such a splash when it was taken in the Oscars about six years ago, I wasn’t aware of most of the events that form the core of this book of journalism. The TV personality’s stunt however wasn’t spontaneous but was, rather, the result of a sustained effort by a group of American employees who subsequently left the company on account of its culture.

Excellence isn’t prized very highly at Samsung but conformity is. Belonging to the herd is the most important characteristic of successful employees of a company that, to succeed, relies on the support of the Korean government, the country’s judiciary, as well as business luminaries. The collective is paramount.

As is the case also in Japanese companies. Hard to imagine I’d be able to stoke into existence a desire to buy a Samsung phone after reading this engrossing book, which begins its account in the early years pre-WWII and continues up to the present. Luckily there are plenty of alternatives available in the market.

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