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  • Writer's picturedkkimesq

Speak Up or Shut Up?- Part 1 -

Why did the ex-employee speak out via SNS after their resignation without speaking up? (please see Legal Update 1st post "Supreme Court's Ruling on the Defamation Case (Facebook)")

While reading the recent Supreme Court Ruling on the defamation case (Facebook), the above question popped up. Below is a news article containing a clue to the answer. According to the report, the conflict with the boss was the main hidden reason for the resignation (65.7% hid this reason). The main reason for not disclosing the real reason (41.2%) was that they believed,

"Informing makes no change"

On the other hand, the main reason for reversing the decision of resignation was

"Uncertainty after the resignation"

According to the following news article, after they decided to leave, only 35.2% resigned, and 64.8% withdrew their decision. "Reverting Rate" is in proportion with the age and seniority of the title.

Personal Experience

A group of ex-colleagues ("Activists") tried to dismiss Macquarie Korea Asset Management ("MKAM") from the manager of Macquarie Korea Infrastructure Fund("MKIF"). Their assertions contained many issues, and their resignation grounds are somewhat connected.

It was a painful but valuable experience for Activists, MKAM, investors of MKIF, and me.

After the event, (i) Activists secured the return for their investors and made a strong presence as an activist, (ii) the management of MKAM evolved and MKAM agreed to discount its management fee, and (iii) I absolved various experiences throughout the whole proxy fight process including an empty voting issue.

Why did they attack MKAM and why didn't they speak up before the resignation?

A pattern of Internal Speak Up

There is a pattern when someone speaks up against the internal higher authority first and moves on to SNS. To be clear, as far as I know, the below was not the Activist's pattern.


The material assumption for a thriving speak-up culture is horizontal culture against authoritarianism. To freely speak, the Speaker needs not to fear the backlash. To not fear, the higher authorities need a tolerance for getting hurt. However, it's pretty hard to find a company that satisfies this assumption, especially in Asian culture.

After Speaking Up

As such, the company's senior management often ignores employees' speak-up. Once dismissed, the employee inevitably speaks up in a larger forum, hoping someone will listen and act.

If the case escalated to this stage, due to the lack of tolerance, the accused higher authority counter-accuses the Speaker as in breach of inappropriate workplace behavior ("AWB"). The senior management creates problems with the Speaker's choice of the improper forum rather than discussing the message contained therein.

An investigation against the Speaker

Thus, the investigation proceeds against the Speaker regarding AWB in advance. The company's first step is disconnecting the Speaker from its premises, including access to the network. This step is due to the fear of reputation damage when information leaks to the public. Once the company finds any flaw in the employee, if the Speaker is a valuable resource, they threaten to shut up or stay in consideration of forgiving the employee's mistakes; otherwise, negotiate the separation. In response, the employee either voluntarily resigns or shuts up & stays.

Once resigned, some brave employees disclose the content to SNS or other media... To be continued...

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