Culture refers to the behavioral standard within a particular population of people who share a generic ethnicity, education, convictions, background and physical location. Acceptance of the multinational corporations (MNCs) by external environments, therefore, calls for high responsiveness to cross-cultural control to unfold, apply the countrys environmental strategies, and as well reach their goals outside their country (Mundial, 2013).
Rationale for Choosing Japan
Japan has an interesting and complex culture, deeply immersed in the past traditions and on the other hand, a society in a state of rapid change with shifting trends and fashions as well as technological developments that continually tests and pushes the boundaries. Breaking into the Japanese economic sector, the second biggest economy in the world is difficult for investors from other nations despite the efforts to establish their presence in this region that covers about a third of the available global market (Miller, 2013)). There is a wrong perception of the Japanese market culture as the primary barrier to starting a business in Japan by many nations who wish to enter the market.
Many foreigners fail to invest in the Japanese market due to the misconception that it is risky to do business in the Japanese culture. It is true that the Japanese market culture is different from that of other countries like the US and Europe, but the investors have to understand that these differences do not pose any business threats. In the most recent reports released in 2014 concerning the Japanese economic growth, the Japans gross domestic product had a 6.7 % increase rate for the quarter running from January to March. Japan continues to improve on the number of very impressive statistics. In the late 19th century and early 20th century saw Japan embrace the many influences of the western technology. Following the defeat in the world war two, there is a remarkable growth in the Japanese economy. The Japanese market is one of the leading industrial powers in the world characterized by a new, exciting and stable business market open to outside investors and trade, as well as the most profitable.
The culture of the Japanese market
When planning and establishing any business activities in a foreign country, it is crucial to clearly understand the essential cultural practices and norms that have the potential to influence the success of the firm (Gesteland, 2012). From the initial launch of operations, there are numerous vital components to put into consideration when setting up a new business in Japan.
The crucial information that one needs to start a business in Japan concern the geology, the climate, people, religion, and language. Japan lies in the east of the Eurasian continent, with the northernmost latitude as Italy, Portland, Oregon and the Montreal, Canada, and the Hawaii, Cuba and the Mauritania as the southernmost latitude. Many earthquakes occur in Japan and cause disasters in the economy with floods and landslides occurring every year.
In Japan, after the world war two, the system of the symbolic emperor and democracy represent the political system. The Japanese people possess the character of nationalism but not very political. The liberal democratic party, a very conservative party takes control all over Japan. There are celebrations of the unique history, culture and language by the Japanese as an expression of love for their country. There are many regulations and interest groups that protect their achieved merit. The issue of gender equality is still low in Japan as there are few women in politics and for women who join companies, the laws ask them to quit after marriage. The population of Japan is about one hundred and thirty million, with high concentrations in Tokyo and Kansai. The Japanese people study English, but they highly value people from other linguistic backgrounds (Suzuki & Jaffe, 2010). Japan is a polytheistic culture with folk religion although many aliens believe that the state religion is Shinto. Visiting the shrines and temples is their cultural religion. Issues that have an argument in the Abrahamic faith like the creationism teachings and gay marriages lack a basis in Japan.
As a result of the strong modern business rivalry in Asia, Japanese cultures value making their decisions efficiently and swiftly. When one wants to arrange for a business appointment, the Japanese culture considers personal calls as more efficient than sending the letter. In the Japanese market culture, punctuality is essential and those arriving late show disrespect for the culture. It is, therefore, a good practice to get at least five minutes to the actual time of the appointment.
Business in Japan starts with the business cards, and a careful examining of a business card is essential. Engaging in small business talks is important in the negotiations, but very personal questions are not acceptable. Only the family life, education and social life that is important. Business protocols are not the actual final agreement or sign that a business is over, looking for clients or partners even after the business dissolves is important. The Japanese culture encourages the aftercare and long-term relationships.
The Japanese culture has business etiquette rules that govern the code of conduct. Apologies and expressions of gratitude, avoidance of confrontation or show of negative emotions, and greeting of colleagues with respect and politeness are a good practice. On the other hand, giving a single Japanese partner excessive praise in the presence of others is unethical because a group is important than a single person. The culture also does not allow one to address their Japanese counterparts by their first names as only the titles apply. Use of strange facial expressions, large hand gestures or dramatic movements is not part of the Japanese market culture.
Japanese vs. US business Culture
The grouping of the national cultures emphasizes the six cultural dimensions (Hofstede, 1984); Individualism. Individualism refers to the extent of interdependence a society upholds among its members (Kieser, 1994). The culture of Japanese is collectivist while that of the US is individualistic. When compared with the US, the individualism score of Japan is very low, that in Japan, people belong to cliques (organizations, clans or families) who take care of one another in expectation of loyalty and compliance. Therefore, when planning to operate a business in this country, investors should be ready and able to function as we' rather than I' for it to be successful.
From the moment one arrives at the airport, the baggage carriers are ready, and the inspectors are incredibly polite. The cleaning staff ensures that the escalator hand rail is hygienic. The ticket inspectors on the front of the train always bow their heads as one board the train, and this applies even to the hotels. The people of Japan, welcome clients in the Japanese bar with shouts and the same, happens when one leaves as a sign of saying thank you. The Japanese culture is service oriented, and customer service is the pillar of business.
When it comes to instructing their workers, US managers tend to be more direct in their comments. However, in the Japanese culture, the employees are given the authority to debate on a proposed decision in the whole organization until they arrive at a collective agreement. The American managers mostly do not consider the ideas of the subordinates which leads to the subordinates feeling frustrated in the meetings ("The alteration in Business Customs between Asia and the West - Executive Search Headhunter - Philippines, Asia-Pacific, ASEAN," 2017).
The influence of Confucianism makes the Japanese market culture to value respect for the highly ranked individuals. Personal space is a concern because the place is densely populated. The managers view themselves as the dominant group where they believe that the other workers have to depend on them. Other than handshakes, physical contact is never allowed in public. In the US, titles are a poor reflection f how important a person is in the organization. Power is what determines the importance and profitability of a sector, head-count responsibility and the strategic importance of a company at that time is what determines power (Schein, 1981).
When it comes to authority, managers in the US usually consider themselves as part of the team. In short, the US business culture believes in professional relationships, and it is not expected to go to a personal level. When it comes to hierarchies, American business culture has a flatter structure with less hierarchical levels. The managers try to make their subordinates feel that even their opinions matter' and they are all in the same boat.' In Japan, the business culture comprises of a definite hierarchy, and everyone needs to be aware of his/her position within the company.
In the Japanese business meetings, the most senior staff member enters the room first, and the subordinates later follow in the order of the ranking, with the least senior member sitting closest to the door (Varley, 2000). In the US, such politeness is not evident as their businesses are informal and the meetings can for the first time seem to have lifelong friendships within the minutes of shaking hands first.
This dimension opposes the notion that all individuals in the community are equal (Kieser, 1994). Japan scores quite well in this aspect since the Confucian teaching that states that the stability of a society is dependent on unequal interactions between people' drive it. Therefore, for a successful business operation in this country, one must be ready to appreciate the hierarchical culture of the country's business operations. The US entrepreneurial culture disregards power due to the nonhierarchical business structures.
Company start up
When one decides to start a business in Japan, the first thing to consider is the corporate entity that is most effective and efficient to use (Miller, 2013). In the first month of operation, research is done to decide on whether starting an office or a company in Japan is an efficient way of setting up for distribution support or direct sales in Japan. The first three months help in deciding ones success of doing business in the Japanese market for the next three years. In the US, one is required to complete a sequence of procedures, and this takes more time (Mundial, 2013). It is also cost-effective to start a business in Japan than in the US.
Relationships with Foreign Countries
Countries have to establish policies to protect foreign investors to encourage them to inject capital into the country's economy, measured by the investor's protection index. The result is an analysis of the frankness of business operations, the stakeholder's ability to take legal action on directors and officers for delinquency and accountability of self-dealing. Japan protects foreign investors as the US does. In the index comparison of countries protection for the investors, Japan scored 7,6,8 and seven while the US scored 7, 9,9 and 8.3 in the indexes of transaction transparency, managers responsibility, shareholders power and investors protection respectively (Gesteland, 2005).
Long Term Dimension
It states that no matter the advancement of how we do things, a society must not dismiss its traditional ways (Kieser, 1994). In the Japanese case, the adoption of the western food, clothing, houses and hairstyle is almost the same as there before. The use of electronic tools for storing and communicating information, airplanes and bureaucratic institution enlarges the Japanese spheres of life although it does not always produce a classic style of life and this is why it is advisab...
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