Samsung Electronics says it will reform its authoritarian, top-down corporate culture in a bid to act like a lean startup.

The Korean company said its executives and workers have pledged to reduce hierarchical practices, unnecessary meetings and excessive working hours in a "Startup Samsung" ceremony held Thursday at its headquarters in Suwon, South Korea.

The move comes as Samsung is under pressure to find new business areas as a father-to-son leadership transition looms. Lee Jae-yong, 48, is expected to succeed his ailing father at a time when Samsung's mainstay semiconductor and phone businesses are under threat from Chinese companies.

Samsung says it has long sought to reform its corporate culture to fit its global image, but employees say work hours are long and speaking up to supervisors is not easy.