CKGSB Professor: The Key to Success is an Idea

September 20, 2015

Professor Cho Dong-Sung asserts that the cornerstone of starting a new business is having a standout idea in an interview with Chosun Biz, one of the most influential business media websites in Korea. According to him, China’s pragmatic line of thought makes for better business circumstance compared with Korea, which has less liberal traditions. “It is impossible to succeed without accepting risk. China is the right target for business people who are looking for new opportunities” said Prof. Cho.

Cho Dong-Sung, Professor of Strategy at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, asserts that the cornerstone to starting a new business is having a breakthrough idea, in an interview with Chosun Biz, one of the most influential business media websites in Korea. “Finance cannot be the problem in starting a new business, because the number of investors looking for a good investment target always surpasses that of startups needing capital” said Professor Cho. He believes that “the reason for imbalances is a lack of ideas, not money” quoting a passage from the Talmud.


Professor Cho Dong-Sung speaks to Chosun Biz

about entrepreneurialism and Chinese business culture


Q: With a startup boom taking place in Beijing, about 50 companies are established every day. This is very different from the situation in Korea.

A: It is not merely a difference between the two countries, but also a gap between Korea and everywhere else. Startups are booming all over the world. For example, in the United States, Harvard University established the first MBA program in 1909, targeting CEOs and professional managers of Fortune 500-listed companies. The MIT MBA specialized in technology management, and the University of Pennsylvania and University of Chicago business degrees fostered finance. Only the Stanford MBA specialized in entrepreneurship, focusing on venture startups. For the last five years, the trend had changed and the Stanford MBA model has become the standard. Unlike in Korea, business schools in the US and China now actively advocate startup education.


Q: Why is start up business education growing in popularity?

A: A lot of Koreans lost their jobs in the aftermath of economic crises such as the IMF financial crisis of 1997 and the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. The government failed to encourage people to start new businesses, and stability became the most important factor in choosing a new job. While at CKGSB, students tend to be strongly motivated to plan new businesses, most Korean students concentrate on certificate exams so as to get stable jobs. Awareness of the risk and benefits of getting into startups should be given more focus in business school.

Korea tends to lack a certain dynamism in its business environment. Generally, regular employment is regarded as offering a more stable status than building one’s own business, even though retirement has its own problems. Of course, developing one’s own business is not easy and only 20% of firms succeed, but the probability of success increases if one learns from one’s earlier failures.


Q. What are the differences between Korean and Chinese business cultures?

A: Culture is connected to a way of thinking. In Korea, the distinction between right and wrong is very strictly adhered but by contrast, in China, the pragmatic tradition is stronger.


Q: Please give some advice to businesspeople and students in Korea who have an interest in China.

A: Students in Korea tend to identify stability with success. However, pursuing stability does not mean success per se. It is impossible to succeed without taking on risks. China is the right target for a businessperson who is looking for new opportunities that carry with them with the spirit of challenge.

To read the original article in Korean, please click here.

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