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Cross-Culture Communication & Management

Essay by   •  February 16, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,434 Words (6 Pages)  •  3,004 Views

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1.0 Introduction

The main objective of this report is to help the ÐŽ§International Expansion TeamЎЁ of Digby to recognize the possible culture differences problem they may face while establishing their joint venture and operating business in Japan. Considering Ms. Ingrid Cremer, the project manager in charge of Japan market came from Germany, this report will give a clear comparison between Japan and GermanyÐŽ¦s business culture and recommend strategies for Digby to overcome the culture differences problem.

2.0 The General Business Cultures in Japan and Germany

According to Geert HofstedeÐŽ¦s analysis, Japan was characterized as a collectivist, high power distance, high uncertainty avoidance and masculine country. While the analysis for Germany shows their emphasis on individualism, masculinity, and uncertainty avoidance. Power distance and long-term orientation are both ranked considerably lower than the others. ( Please also refer to Appendix A. Understanding and taking more consideration on those culture differences will help Digby in establishing a good relationship with their Japanese partners and operating effectively in an international environment. The following analysis will help Digby be aware of those significant differences.

Communication Style

Before go to Japan, the first issue that DigbyÐŽ¦s ÐŽ§international Expansion TeamЎЁ need to be aware is that, culturally, the Japanese tend to be somewhat introverted and indirect in their ways. German and other EuropeanÐŽ¦s communication style is more direct than Japanese. Be warned, and do some homework will help DigbyÐŽ¦s ÐŽ§International Expansion TeamЎЁ avoid misunderstanding when doing business in Japan, in particularly JapaneseÐŽ¦s indirect expression of 'no'.

Face-conscious culture

In Germany, in business discussing, openly-expressed criticism tends to be directed at aspects of the problem, project, or business; it should not be considered as personal disapproval. In contrast, in Japan, confrontations and direct criticism should be carefully avoided. For Japanese, face is a mark of personal pride and forms the basis of an individual's reputation and social status. So causing someone to lose face can be disastrous for business relationships. (

It is important for DigbyÐŽ¦s International Expansion Team to remember the face-conscious culture in Japan and think of ways for people to "save" face. For example, use indirect way to express your disagreement with other personÐŽ¦s opinions and do not blame someone for a mistake directly. DigbyÐŽ¦s team should focus less on proving who is correct and more on how to get the job done.

Interpersonal Relationship

Generally speaking, Germans separate their private life and work strictly. So business relationships in German are often based on mutual advantage, with the overall task as the central focus, and interpersonal relationships play a secondary role in business dealings. (

But in Japan, building an interpersonal relationship based on trust and mutual feeling is vital for business success. According to anecdotal evidence, when arranging a business appointment, making a personal call will be more effective than sending a letter and seen as good manners.

It is possible that DigbyÐŽ¦s team will be asked some personal questions in Japan. They should be aware that it is just an attempt of Japanese to be friendly. One recommendation here for DigbyÐŽ¦s team is trying not to show discomfort with such questions. Building up a good personal relationship with Japanese partners will be very useful for the business cooperation.

3.0 The Management Cultures in Japan and Germany

Power Distance:

It is important to recognize the impact of culture on management. According to HofstedeÐŽ¦s study, Japan was characterized as a high power distance country. The style of management would appear to be strongly authoritarian but paternal. ( In contrast, Germany has low power distance, managers tend to socialize and interact with workers more often and emphasis is on challenging decisions, expecting autonomy and independence. (

Collectivist and Individualist

Another key management culture difference between Germany and Japan is collectivist and individualist. As most western European cultures, Germany is marked by a strong sense of individualism. For example, in many business decisions, not only the financial benefits to the company are important, but also those of its employees. The structure of much German business decision-making requires consensual input from both employers and employeesÐŽXwhich can render decisions comparatively slow. (

Japan differs from Germany in that Japan is a more collectivist culture that avoids risks and shows little value for personal freedom. ( The most valued principle still alive in Japanese society today is the concept of 'harmony'. In business terms, it is reflected in the avoidance of self-assertion and individualism and the preservation of good relationships despite differences in opinion. ( Japanese are conservative, loyal and dedicated to their company and decision-making will be based on what is best for the group. (

DigbyÐŽ¦s team should be aware of those differences and adjust their behavior accordingly. For example, donÐŽ¦t give excessive praise to a single Japanese colleague in front of others. Remember that the group is often more important than the individual.

Masculinity and Feminine

According to Geert HofstedeÐŽ¦s analysis, in Japan, Masculinity is the highest characteristic which emphasizes ambition, acquisition of wealth, and differentiated gender roles. Masculine societies tend to see men as assertive and women as nurturing ( As a German female manager, Ms. Ingrid Cremer should be aware of this issue and take more time to establish trust with Japanese. At the same time, pay more attention on the details. For example, wear pants in a business situation and low-heeled shoes to avoid towering over men.

4.0 The Business Interactions in Japan and Germany

4.1 Presentations

With a low-context culture, GermanÐŽ¦s presentation tend to be clear, straight-to-the-point, linear, well-structured and fact-oriented. Japan, on the other



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