Some recent analysis by analysts and other industry sources indicates Samsung may be in the midst of a downsizing movement despite the umbrella entity, Samsung Group, disclaiming any such formal change is underway. The primary indicators that something may be afoot are changes in staffing levels throughout most business units and the elimination of some of Samsung’s research and development centers. Experts think Samsung may be taking some preemptive measures in anticipation of a general global economic downturn as well as a tightening market in areas like smartphones, home appliances, information technology, construction and shipbuilding.
As of the third quarter in 2015, Samsung had reduced the number of research and development centers it was operating to 41 versus 44 centers from a year earlier. Along with the reduction in R&D centers, Samsung reduced spending on R&D investments during 2015. Analysts note this is the first time since 1998, during the Asian financial crisis, that Samsung has reduced their R&D spending year over year.
In a similar manner, Samsung is reducing their employee headcount. At their headquarters facility, Samsung employees have fallen by almost 2.500 positions since the end of 2014. Other subsidiaries have also seen headcounts fall. Samsung Display saw more than 1,000 positions vacated during just the first nine months of 2015. Employee counts, notably among managers and directors, have fallen in Samsung C&T, Samsung SDS, Samsung Card, Samsung Securities, Samsung Life Insurance, and Cheil Worldwide, the conglomerate’s advertising unit. Although the company says no intentional restructuring is in place that is driving these departures, insiders indicate not all of the employees have left willingly. There is even a rumor floating that Samsung is exploring the sale of Cheil Worldwide.