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Japanese Cultural Tradition

Free Sociology Essays

Cross-Cultural Intelligence

Cultural diversity increases in the modern world, and the constituent nations invest funds and money to protect and develop their cultural integrity. These tendencies to preserve the cultural identity confirm the fact that becoming increasingly interconnected humanity remains culturally different. Social development becomes extremely important for defining the cultural characteristics of the peoples. It enables representatives of different nations to understand each other and achieve mutual recognition and success in business.

Mandatory condition for the successful cooperation of the personnel is the development of cross-cultural competencies. According to the American Academy of Management, 55% of international alliances and 78% of mergers and acquisitions fall within the first 3 years. The problems arise not only in the economic sphere but in the cultural incompatibility of the employees. Companys managers can face the challenges of building distributed organizational structures of the people with a different mentality and strategic approaches to business in the cross-cultural communication. The attention to these problems and competent management of cultural characteristics of the employees in an era of globalization help to avoid failures in specific markets(Chokar, Brodbeck & House, 2013).

A common initial feature of all levels and types of international business and communication is the unawareness of cultural differences by its participants. They can think that their style and way of life is the only possible and correct, that their values ?? are equally understandable and accessible to all people. However, when confronted with other cultures, revealing that the habitual patterns of behavior are not acceptable, people begin to seek the reasons of their failure.

The paper focuses on the peculiarities of cross-cultural intelligence in leading American business in Japan. The striking difference in socio-cultural aspects is crucially different. However, there are many examples and possibilities of successful cross-cultural cooperation. The research analyses the entering of Starbucks business into the specific Japanese market as well as traditional and customary environment.

Organizational Culture in Japan

In international business, the impact of culture becomes evident at all levels in the corporate culture. The more diverse is the geography field of business, the greater differences manifest themselves. Communication barriers demand compliance with more critical requirements for cross-cultural competence of the staff and especially the international managers. Employees contact at any level of the international company is not just the interaction with national cultures, but also the imposition of a large number of corporate, age, gender, professional, and religious sub-cultures.

Sociologists define three categories of the world cultures: mono-active, poly-active, and reactive (Chokar, Brodbeck, & House, 2013). Mono-active companies ??systematically plan their future and have an accurate and coherent schedule. All projects have a strictly fixed time and divided stages. Managers adhere strictly to the plans and try to rely on facts and prescribed procedures. Each department performs a specified range of functions. Absence of patronage system formality, accuracy and timeliness of orders, valued professional competence and group tasks fulfillment reveal the features of mono-active category of the companies.

The lifestyle of poly-active firms is somewhat different. They adhere to planning only general issues and work at any time of the day, often via the Internet. Their schedule is unpredictable, and the projects may overlap. Typically, the end result interest is less important than the process. Changed circumstances can lengthen the time of the project execution. The top managers get the information from the first-hand oral sources. Employees may engage in the affairs of all departments and use communication while seeking patronage. Poly-active companies employ relatives. Personal and professional discussions usually mix and one can observe uncontrolled talks lasting hours.

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Companies of Asia Pacific region present a reactive type of culture. Their specificity can be very stressful and unclear for the western employees. When accepting an invitation to work in such a company, any western representative need to participate special training to minimize the effects of culture shock, which in this case can be strong.

The peculiarities of Japanese cultural tradition have printed the ways of leading business. Etiquette codes of conduct that promote success in the cross-cultural communication include verbal and non-verbal codes, socio-relational, perceptual, intercultural environmental contexts (Chokar, Brodbeck, & House, 2013).

Personalization relations. High dependence on the context of communication is typical for many Eastern cultures. The ambiguity and vagueness of speech and abundant compromise seeking forms of saying words manifest this peculiarity. The Japanese adhere to courtesy and maintain harmony of interpersonal relationships. Their language grammar structure, in which the verb is at the end of the sentence, helps the speaker who has seen the reaction to his first words mitigate the sentence or even reverse its original meaning. Japanese try to avoid the word “no” and they use the soft momentum denial instead(Earley, Ang, & Tan, 2006).

The Japanese are trying to build the business relationship on a personal basis. Therefore, in the course of negotiations when the other party can ask a lot of questions, not related to a matter of fact, the Japanese are trying to establish personal contact with a partner, and thus secure his consent to further joint work. The same purpose is the organization of the entertainment program for the partners. Japanese love to entertain their guests, and they can to do it well. It is impolite to refuse from offers to visit various interesting places in the city before the talks.

While dealing with others, Japanese usually discuss topics omitting their essential points, a long time arguing about everything, not only about the main subject of the discussion. This strategy allows them to learn more about the intentions of the partners, to placate or to oppose them, without dropping the merits of the other side. If Tokyo’s partner says that before answering the suggestion, he has to consult his wife, it will not mean that he is an advocate of women’s equality. It is just one of the ways not to refuse directly (Earley, Ang, & Tan, 2006).

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Obligatory way to explore the potential partners is a personal meeting with the company representative together with the direction of an official proposal regarding cooperation. As a rule, such a meeting takes place with the help of a mediator.

Greetings. When meeting a verbal greeting is accompanied by a ceremonial bow, the depth of which depends on the age and position of both sides. Bow is also accompanied by the separation, acceptance and delivery of the gift. It is necessary to make a bow when people first meet and on formal occasions in the office.

During the exchange of bows there are almost no side glances. Japanese avoid looking directly into the eyes under any circumstances – usually the head is bent low, and thus, most of the greetings and apologies are directed to the ground. In Japan, it is impolite ??to look directly into each other’s eyes. Japanese speakers look usually somewhere to the side. A subordinate, listening to reprimand of the chief, lowers his eyes and smiles. In Japanese culture eye contact is not a mandatory attribute of communication. Silence in Japan is not considered as a vacuum of communication, but as a sign of strength and virility.

The Japanese do not accept meeting on the street, in public transport and places. They do not speak for no particular reason with strangers on the street (for example, asking the road, requesting some help), although older people can afford it. Woman in Japanese etiquette should show modesty, since it is required to use more polite forms of speech. There is no tradition to submit to a woman her coat, give way, or open the door.

Traditional form of greeting is the bow, and the lower it is, the more respect it shows. However, business contacts with foreign colleagues have become more frequent and start on a conventional handshake. With this in mind, it is important not to get into a trap. It is not polite to bow while the Japanese holds his hand for a handshake. It is better to stay on one more suitable way. It is also necessary to remember that Japanese culture is not characterized by the direct contact, thus wide embrace or pat on the back are inappropriate.

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Any business acquaintance with the Japanese business begins with the compulsory exchange of business cards. Therefore, it is always necessary to have a sufficient amount, as if in response to the proposed card everyone should offer his in exchange. The failure can confuse and even offend a Japanese businessman. In addition, the Japanese are very selective in sending their business cards. It is important to use both hands as if leaning slightly forward when taking it from the partner.

Accuracy is the politeness of kings and the Japanese. The whole practice of business communication in Japan is based on accuracy. Japanese children grow up in the spirit of group solidarity and corporatism, learn to suppress their individualistic impulses, to restrain the ambitions and do not boast of their strengths. In some cases, it is not a strong point of the Japanese companies and can often create problems.

A strict hierarchical system of senior-junior (Sempai-kohai) is the bases of the Japanese society (Hamada, 2011). It originates in a very complicated etiquette, coming from time immemorial. When communicating, the age difference even in one year matters. Age defines social status in the relationship.

In almost all situations the Japanese remain unfailingly polite, even if they do not like something. The Japanese have a very delicate system of hints based on the principle that the other person has to understand everything himself. However, when dealing with foreigners, they can withdraw from their traditional etiquette (Hamada, 2011).

Accurate speech is a vital rule of Japanese etiquette. Lack of courtesy makes Japanese oppose, although not openly. Excessive politeness in speech can also cause not only a surprise, but a desire to distance from the interlocutor. If the conversation is carried out in a foreign language, it is subject to the rules adopted in this language and culture. It is important to choose polite and simple style of speech, which corresponds to the location and age of the communicants, their age, location, and gender, degree of formality of the conversation, the nature and duration of the relationship. The next very important rule of conversation is the expression of interest to the words of the interlocutor.

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The ability to give gifts. In Japan, the gift is a sign of interest, value, and respect. When possible partners fail to give and receive a present from the Japanese, they can interpret it as bad manners. It is important to take the present with both hands. The unwrapping is no less important sign of respect than the gift itself. The foreigners should accept any gift with the same expression of deep gratitude, without consideration of the size and material value. The Japanese alien does not expect the cash gifts. It is better to buy something edible of a good quality at an expensive store.

It is decent to pass a gift at the next meeting or at parting and not to give something to a partner immediately. In addition, a gift should not be advertising ones company. The most appropriate gifts are a bottle of wine, expensive pens, or symbolic national products. All members of the negotiations should receive gifts, and those with high position should present something more valuable than others. Response gifts should have the same price range and brand.

It is impolite to visit people with flowers. This is an appropriate present only for a sick person or family of a deceased. Red color symbolizes blood. It is not valid in the package if someone goes to the hospital or funeral. It does not suit to sad events (Hamada, 2011).

The Japanese do not expect that everyone will abide by their customs and rules of conduct, but if the partner tries to do as appropriate, he will be very grateful. At the same time, it is enough to remain polite as well as follow the rules of communication.

The gifts exchange is an important part of Japanese ceremony. Coming into the house or establishing new business relationships without a present is considered disrespectful. Gifts are given to and received with both hands, with a ceremonial bow (Hamada, 2011).

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Comparison of the Cultural Dimensions in the USA and Japan

Every country as well as nation has its own customs and traditions of communication and business ethics. Despite the fact that the international companies gradually form a certain standard of business contacts, there are marked differences in the degree of openness and independence representation (Moodian, 2009).

USA. Knowledge of national characteristics can serve as a guide to decoding the possible behavior of the partner. For example, Americans have made an essential element of pragmatism and democracy in the practice of business communication. American pragmatism becomes evident when during the business talks and negotiations they are concentrated on the discussed problem and seek to identify not only the common possible approaches to a solution, but the details related to the implementation of the agreements. It is difficult to find a person incompetent in the issues of the American delegation, because business adheres to the conditions of severe competition(Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008).

American style of negotiating, the informal stile of business talks can be ineffective for establishment of the successful business relations with the representatives of Asian companies. Considering themselves a sort of trendsetters in the technology business communication, Americans can often exhibit self-centeredness and believe that the partner must follow the same rules. As a result, the United States representatives can be assessed as pushy and aggressive partners. Their desire for informal communication is considered sometimes as familiarity. Realizing the economic power of their country, Americans prefer big deal and tend to exaggerate and emphasize the scope of activities, turnover, and size of their company. The US businessmen prefer to know with whom they are dealing. The business receptions in the United States are the most favorable opportunity to talk about family and hobbies. It is better to avoid discussing politics and religion, because the United States is a country of Puritan values. They do not consume much alcohol. Upon the reception completion, the participants may return to the agency and continue the negotiations. They adhere to the principle that business is above all.

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Japan. Japanese national character reflects such features as hard work, devotion to tradition, a sense of duty, courtesy, and striving for concerted action in the group. Japanese morality considers bonds of mutual dependence to be the basis of relations between people. Individualism is not welcome and non-preferable. Combining their interests with the family interests, the Japanese automatically move and develop with colleagues, and reach a certain level humbly waiting to be promoted to the top level. Japanese adhere to fidelity to the firm, the state, the nation, sometimes at expense of their personal interests. Japanese as a nation with the high level of organization and a lack of a sense of humor highlights a sincere self-criticism. In the bitter moments of failure the Japanese never blame others of their mistakes. Being serious and not relaxing, they analyze irregularities and seek to correct them in the shortest possible period (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008).

Punctuality has great importance in Japanese culture. The accuracy of arrangements during the time they start and end or the fulfillment of promises and commitments are the most important features of the Japanese negotiating style (Hamada, 2011).

Foreigners who first meet a Japanese businessman, can be extremely surprised by the slow pace of business negotiations. It is important to bear in mind that in Japan, when one hears a confirming answer, it does not always mean a valid consent. The Japanese traditionally do not engage in the open contradiction with the interlocutor and do not upset him and, therefore, avoid direct negative answers. If a Japanese businessman wants to refuse some the proposition, he commonly says that it is difficult to complete the task.

The Japanese always show the desire to avoid an open clash of opposing views and in the practice of decision-making. In this case, according to the norms of the Japanese business ethics, the competence does not imply the ability to remain firm in the decision, but to be willing to compromise for the sake of common agreement. Talks with the Japanese businessman are impossible without a pause and silence. There is no use trying to fill this silence. For the Japanese, this situation is normal usually after mutual silence conversation becomes more successful. It is necessary to forget about tactical displays of affection and especially irritation. The Japanese tend to control their emotions and consider effusive manner as rudeness. Patience and the desire to establish mutual understanding gives the best results (Livemore, 2010).

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In Japan, the discrimination against women still reigns in public institutions, offices, private companies, and manufacturing plants. Both in the family and society, there is a dominant position of men. Japanese women have difficulty in presenting ideas and views due to the traditional women’s education and gender peculiarities of the language. For example, in Japanese TV programs having the nature of the conversation, the role of women is almost always reduced to silent agreement with men leading the dialogue.

Japanese women live in a society where the man reigns and governs. The dominant role of men in this country is an old tradition, and in many countries of the East, it is expressed in business, arts, and politics (Hamada, 2011). However, the beauty and uniqueness of the Japanese woman, her great patience, a sense of harmony and balance in all things, willingness to sacrifice have been known since ancient times. A wife running the household sees her husband no more than a couple of days a week. Having mistresses is not a sin for a Japanese man, and almost every one of the stronger sex does not miss his possibility from the existing traditions of law.

Japanese women work, and some of them are financially firm. They are able to hide their feelings, build diplomatic relations with the husband to obtain even more than European women do. However, having a lot of rights under the influence of civilization, becoming more independent, educated, and self-confident, a Japanese woman still accompanies her husband to the door, with reverence and humility lowering the head down, bowing to her husband in the trail (Hamada, 2011).

Women who come to work on business to Japan should be ready to neglect and irrelevance with the rights and freedoms they got accustomed in America. They will need to adapt their communicative strategies with the rules of traditional and patriarchal attitude towards female role in the society.

Analysis of Cross-Cultural Business Strategies of Starbucks in Japan

Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee shop chain, has decided to buy out its Japanese partner in the franchise Starbucks Japan, according to the website of the American company. The deal amounted to $ 914 million. Although they opened the first cafe in the 1996 and developed successful business for nearly twenty years, the managers applied to many cross-cultural strategies while defending their position in the new cultural market(Baertlein, 2014).

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Network Starbucks is not the first time gets full control of the company’s partner in an important market for themselves, writes The Seattle Times. In 2006, the network bought a controlling stake in its Chinese franchise which was owned by a private investment company and several of its partners.

The peculiarity of Japanese customers made the owners of the company start their business from close cooperation with native company Sazaby League. The partners managed to adapt successfully the concepts of Starbucks to the Japanese reality and made it a competitive and costly business. The popularity of the American coffee bars network in Japan proves the possibility of leading highly successful business based on cross-cultural competence and cooperation. Nowadays culturally competent employees can come to Japan and work successfully.

Conclusion

Cultural intelligence proves to be a very important aspect of modern management paradigm. This concept includes verbal and non-verbal codes, socio-relational, perceptual, intercultural, and environmental contexts. Such approach reveals that a culturally intelligent person has a strong motivation and shows confidence and desire to adapt to a new culture. Knowledge means factual understanding of modes and ways of behavior in different cultures as well as cultural procedures. Strategy means ability to develop adequate ways of behavior in different situations of the cross-cultural communication and achieve success in getting culturally diverse experiences. Action is the final stage of cultural intelligence realization.

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Since Starbucks Japan has become the second largest market for sales, there are located the most profitable cafe network with special design and cultural specifics. Starbucks first institution outside the United States was opened 20 years ago in Japan’s Ginza district. At the moment, Japan has about a thousand stores network and presents an example of efficient cross-cultural management.

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