Go to contents

A country that global talents turns away

Posted January. 27, 2016 07:11,   

Updated January. 27, 2016 07:18


Shin Gi-wook, a sociology professor at Stanford University who authored “Global Talent,” says, “The power of innovation in the U.S. stems from talents with diverse nationalities. In fact, around half of startup founders in Silicon Valley are from outside the U.S. Good examples are Indian CEOs, such as Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. “I was shocked to learn that there are no foreigners and women but only “Koreans” and “men” in Samsung Group’s leadership,” said Shin who is on a sabbatical leave and staying in Korea. “To compete with Apple and Google, which attract global talents, it needs to mix different races.”

The headquarters of Sweden’s Ericsson has employees with more than 10 nationalities. Its Chief Marketing Officer’s first job is coming through the world to find talents. MediaMonks, an innovative Dutch company, has some 400 employees from 26 countries. “When it comes to a country’s wealth, people think foreign currency and gold reserves and social overhead capital. But human capital accounts for three-fourth of a country’s wealth,” said Gary Becker who won the Nobel Prize in economic sciences for his work on “Human Capital."

Four years ago, Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee asked his group to find top talents for the next five to 10 years. Samsung Electronics, however, has yet to find the right person for the head for its software center for three years. Even if it succeeds to attract talents with salary equivalent to that of its peers in Silicon Valley, they refuse to accept the offer for reasons such as the lack of international schools, tough reemployment conditions, and severe racial discrimination.

The Global Talent Competitiveness Index released by INSEAD, one of the foremost business school in Europe, in 2014 shows that Korea ranked 48th in tolerance to immigrants. It is pale in comparison to its economic scale – 10th largest in the world. Scholars around the world warned that the economic model driven by a single folk like Korea now faces its limit. Some analysts argue that Korea should accept 7.36 million immigrants by 2060 to overcome challenges from the decreasing working age population due to low birth rates and aging. If Korea fails to embrace different races and cultures to help immigrants take root, global talents will not come to Korea and cannot make the most of their ability even if they do.

허문명국제부장 angelhuh@donga.com