Compare the business culture of the UK
with that of Japan.
How would business negotiations
between delegations from the two countries be affected,
and how would you advise a UK team
to prepare for the negotiations?
From Eve to Izanami -
the Truth and the Way
can help Westerners understand Japanese culture,
as well as their own
Introduction“Nihonjinron”, literally “the Theory of the Japanese”, has been of fascination for both Japanese and foreigners alike, and the industrialised world seems acutely aware that the Japanese are very different to Westerners, in ideology, religion, and business strategies. There are countless books, articles and websites which attempt to teach people how to communicate with the Japanese in businessnegotiations. However, these sources can cause further alienation, where the numerous rituals we have to memorise make the Japanese seem obsessively pernickety or just plain difficult. This may be because we naturally interpret these behaviours through the lens of a Western Christian culture and remain relatively unaware of the religion and history of the Japanese. This essay will examine how UKdelegations can better understand and negotiate with the Japanese by learning about both the Japanese and their own national culture and history through literature, folktales and religion. Through this preparation a UK team can discover commonalties between the two cultures, which can help to strengthen the relationship, as well as identify differences that need to be discussed.
The following paperis split into three sections, with the first considering the literature to be discussed, including Morrison et al. (1994), who examine UK and Japanese business cultures and the resulting behaviours. Hofstede (1993) and Trompenaars (1993) observe to varying degrees how business culture is closely tied to national culture using a set of bipolar scales, while Hofstede and Bond (1988) begin toconsider historical and religious implications. With regards to UK culture, Hofstede’s and Tromenaars’ findings can be discussed with reference to the Holy Bible, providing clues as to why the British behave the way they do. For Japan, Buruma (1995) and Cleary (1991), examine religious history to help explain the particulars of Japanese behaviour in business.
The second section will compare UK andJapanese business cultures using Hofstede and Trompenaars’ findings, to explain how negotiations between delegations would be affected. The third part of the essay will utilise this information, along with stories about cultural origins, to give advice to a UK team preparing for negotiations. It will be strongly suggested that they learn about both themselves and the Japanese, and from thisunderstanding to draw out similarities as well as identify differences, as this will help dissolve the alienating concept of the “foreigner”.
Morrison, Conaway, and Borden (1994) summarise specific behaviours of people in 60 different nations, including the UK and Japan. They briefly look at each history and government structure, but focus mainly on particular actions in varioussituations, from everyday life to business negotiations. Although they do not explicitly analyse the data, the authors organise the information into similar formats for each country, enabling the reader to draw comparisons between the nations. From their studies, it is clear that there are many differences between the UK and Japan in the way they conduct business. Moreover, there is a clear link betweenbusiness and everyday behaviours, strongly suggesting that business culture is closely tied to national culture.
Following the concept of the interdependence between business and national culture, Hofstede (1993) made a study of 64 nations, from which he created a set of cultural dimensions arranged along bipolar scales, which he argues broadly encapsulates national preferences. They include:...
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