Similarities and Differences between Chinese Culture and Japanese Culture

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Similarities and Differences between
Chinese Culture and Japanese Culture

All collectives and groups in the world, no matter big countries or small families, have their own cultures. There is no single definition which can suit everyone’s understanding of culture. For example, Hofstede defines culture as ‘something consists of the unwritten rules of the social game’ (Refer to Bibliography No.1, p. 6); Hoebel and Frost define culture as an ‘integrated system of learned behaviour patterns’ (Refer to Bibliography No.2, p. 6); Ferraro offers a definition of culture as ‘everything that people have, think, and do as members of their society’ (Refer to Bibliography No.3, p. 19). As two important countries on earth, China and Japan have over two thousand years history of cultural exchange. Cultural similarities formed through their mutual communication and cultural differences formed through their respective development, have been fully reflected in the increasingly frequent business activities between both countries with the rapid development of economic globalization in the 21st Century. The following paragraphs will analyze and discuss the Sino-Japanese cultural similarities and differences using theory of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. (The word ‘Website’ below refers to the website ‘The Hofstede Centre (URL: ‘http://geert-hofstede.com)’ which uses copyrighted information from Professor Geert Hofstede's books, and has been licensed by Professor Hofstede.)

Similarity No. 1: Absolute obedience to superiors is emphasized both in Chinese and Japanese corporations. Both of their education systems tend to stress the importance of collective solidarity and family harmony. Most Chinese and Japanese are educated to always think for others, to be patient and not too prominent to emphasize their strengths. During the early phase of business communication, it often appears that corporation representatives from both China and Japan would discuss and dispute over some particular issue. Whenever this happens, both sides would usually take detailed conference records, sorting out views of each side. The initial talks do not tend to reach material results, both sides would take meeting minutes back for review and discussion separately, to find a new compromise and balance point. At the meantime, when subordinates and superiors differ, it’s almost an implicit rule that superiors enforce while subordinates follow and perform, without any convincing explanation regarding the decision. This point can be tested and verified through “Power distance” theory and “Individualism” theory of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions as follows. As “Power distance” theory states, both Chinese and Japanese culture lean to “High-power-distance cultures”. In the Website, during the analysis conclusion part for China, it mentions:” China sits in the higher rankings of PDI. … The subordinate-superior relationship tends to be polarized and there is no defence against power abuse by superiors.” While when it comes to Japan, it says:” Japan is a mildly hierarchical society. Yes, Japanese are always conscious of their hierarchical position in any social setting and act accordingly.” As “Individualism” theory states, both Chinese and Japanese culture lean to “Collectivist cultures”. In the Website, during the analysis conclusion part for China, it mentions:” China is a highly collectivist culture where people act in the interests of the group and not necessarily of themselves.” While when it comes to Japan, it says:” Japanese society shows many of the characteristics of a collectivistic society: such as putting harmony of group above the expression of individual opinions and people have a strong sense of shame for losing face.”

Similarity No. 2: Both Chinese and Japanese work hard, practice thrift, attach importance to social position and estate, respect culture and tradition, and they also believe it’s virtue to be implicit and bear patiently. In order to come...
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