South Korean humanistic leadership

Hak Yoon Kim, Joon Hyung Park, Hyun Jeong Kim

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify and explore what leadership characteristics constitute humanistic leadership in the South Korean context. Moreover, this study examines how these leadership characteristics are connected to Korean culture. Design/methodology/approach: Based on the information gathered from semi-structured interviews and other sources, including books, case study articles and news articles, this study captures a more comprehensive perspective of Mr. Kook-Hyun Moon, the former CEO of Yuhan–Kimberly. Findings: The key characteristics of Mr. Moon's humanistic leadership that are identified in this study are: respect for all mankind, benevolence (seeking the greater good), sincerity (building trusting relationships with stakeholders) and continuous learning and innovation (developing self and others). These key characteristics set Mr. Moon apart from other leaders and are connected to the fundamental values and philosophies of Korean culture. Originality/value: This study contributes to the current leadership literature by identifying and exploring Mr. Moon's humanistic leadership characteristics that enable him to gain respect and contribute to communities and society in the South Korean context. This study also finds that the humanistic leadership characteristics of Mr. Moon reflect three major attributes of Korean culture: the ideology of the Dangun mythology, the principle of Neo-Confucianism in Korea and jeong – an indigenous cultural concept in Korea (these attributes will be discussed in detail in the South Korean values and philosophies section). Such reflection suggests that investigating how humanistic leadership characteristics are connected to local cultural roots is important to enhance the understanding of humanistic leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-605
Number of pages17
JournalCross Cultural and Strategic Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2020


  • CEO
  • Humanistic leadership
  • South Korea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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