Turning a liability into an asset of foreignness: Managing informal networks in Korea

Jong Min Lee, Yongsun Paik, Sven Horak, Inju Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Although foreignness can bring both benefits and costs to a business, much of the literature has focused on the liability of foreignness (LOF), while relatively little attention has been paid to the positive side. Despite the presence of LOFs, foreign companies may accrue some unique advantages from their foreign status, which are referred to as assets of foreignness (AOFs). Drawing upon social-capital theory and institutional theory, this article examines the issue of LOFs versus AOFs in the context of the informal networks in Korea and explores how foreign companies can manage their weaknesses in host-country-specific informal networks to create value from their foreignness. We discuss two practical strategies, reactive and proactive strategies, that can be used by foreign companies. While these two strategies can be pursued in parallel, this article suggests that foreign companies should prioritize pursuing proactive strategies. This article contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the role of foreignness in the international business context and provides practical insights into how foreign companies can leverage their foreign status in developing their own informal networks in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-364
Number of pages14
JournalBusiness Horizons
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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