Importance of cross-cultural management in an international company: A practical guide in Japan

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Introduction
In a globalized environment, cultural difference is a significant consideration for managers within organizations. Therefore, we will try to understand the connections between management and culture.

Many MNCs have focused on Asian markets due to their rapid economic growth, large market size and investment potentials. However, to develop and implement effective human resource management strategies in their expansion into Asian markets, it is imperative for MNCs to understand Asian cultural values. For the purpose of this work, we will focus on the case of Japan.

Fundamental concepts of cross-cultural management and different aspects

Concept 1 - national cultural dimension in the business context Concept 2 - the influence of national culture on the business culture Concept 3 - value orientations and dimensions

They are complex and they result of interaction between 3 elements: cognitive, affective, and directive.

Three assumptions:

- Universal nature of values orientations
- Many ways of solving problems
- Preferences in choosing solutions

Concept 4 - reconciling cultural Dilemmas

Kluckholn and Strodtbeck identified six dimensions of culture: The nature of people
What do people assume about the basic nature and beliefs about other people? The relationship with nature
What do people think about nature and their responsibilities and rights around it? Duty towards others
What duty do we have towards others?
Mode of activity
What is the primary mode of activity in an organization or society? “being” or “acting”? Privacy of space
How is space treated in a society? Who owns it?
Temporal orientation
Which is more important: past, present or future?

Research on national culture : Geert Hofstede - one of the first researchers to analyze the influence of national culture on management practices based on empirical study at large multinational company like IBM for instance.

There are four aspects of national culture that affect our thinking about organizations; first the power distance, the avoidance of uncertainty, individualism Vs. collectivism, and masculinity Vs. feminity.

Trompenaars’ Dimensions

- Universalism vs. Particularism
Universalism is the belief in rules or laws that can be applied to everyone; agreements and contracts are used as the basis for doing business; rules are used to determine what is right; contracts should not be altered.

Particularism is the belief in placing emphasis on friendships and looking at the situation to determine what is right or ethically acceptable; deals are made based upon friendships.

- Individualism vs. Collectivism
Individualism is characterized by the fact that people ideally achieve alone and assume personal responsibility.

Collectivism is characterized by: frequent use of “we” decisions referred back by the delegates to the organization people ideally achieve objectives in groups and assume joint responsibility.

- Neutral vs. Affective Relationships
Neutral is characterized by not revealing what one is thinking or feeling; hidden emotions; lack of physical contact.

Affective is characterized by nonverbal and verbal display of thoughts and feelings; transparency and expressiveness in release of tensions easy flow of emotions sometimes effusively.

- Specific vs. Diffuse Relationships
Specific is characterized by a small private life that is kept private; clear distinction between work and personal life; direct communication.

Diffuse is characterized by a large private life that includes a relatively large number of people; indirect communication - does not always say what is really meant; no clear distinction between work and private life.

- Achievement vs. Ascription
Achievement – awarding status based upon accomplishments; respect for superior in the hierarchy is based on how effectively his or her job is performed.

Ascription – ascribing status based upon social position, age,...
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