POSCO: Corporate Citizenship

By Mooweon Rhee, Jae-Gu Kim, William P. Barnett
2021 | Case No. SM352 | Length 26 pgs.
South Korean steelmaking giant POSCO in 2021 had become a global company with businesses in 52 countries. In 2018, POSCO’s new chairman and CEO had inaugurated a broader business philosophy, espousing “Corporate Citizenship” practices as a way for the company to give back to society, beyond the production of steel or creation of jobs. This philosophy included new principles, innovative R&D, action plans, and internal and external cooperation to address climate change, sustainable development, safety, economic and social assistance programs, and cultural facilities—all connected to this broader goal of being good global and local citizens. South Korean citizens had long viewed the company as the bedrock of Korea’s industrialization, and a symbol of national pride and “can-do” spirit. Would South Koreans, along with POSCO’s internal and external stakeholders, embrace this new management approach, and the company’s new cultural identity?

Learning Objective

The case invites students to learn more about a large company’s pivot towards environmental, social, and corporate (ESG)-guided management, and investigates the process of making a broad shift towards a new cultural identity, the strategic juggling act between profits and social values, and the metrics to measure progress quantitatively and objectively.
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