Cultural Environment Analysis of Japan
It is well said, having a great place to work makes the difference between running a good company and a great company. Every country has its own set of beliefs, attitudes, customs, and ways of life that directly relates to what things they buy and how they spend their money. So, Assessment of the cultural environment has become an essential step in pre-marketing research.
Edward Twitchell Hall (1914 – 2009) published a book (Proxemic Research 1974) In contrast to other famous cultural environment researchers like Hofstede and Trompenaars, and explain his theory successfully. He defies the four cultural dimensions which are 1) context, 2) time, 3) Speed of Information, And 4) space also known as Proxemics. Context, Halls most of the cultural dimensions relate to the communication style. According to HALL, High context culture gives more priority to personal long-term relationships whereas low-context culture causes short-term relationships (Hall, 1974). Japan is ranked as a high-context culture. They give value to harmony, traditions, and slowly adapt to changes and develop strong bonds among groups (Frost 2013). They are also non-committal, and their conversation style is of high context. Japanese communication is digressive, modest as well as polite with the use of fewer words (Nishimura et al. 2008).
Fons Trompenaars (born 1952) is a management trainer in the area of intercultural communication. He has issued many books about culture and business. In his book “Riding the Waves of Culture 1932”, he identified seven dimensions of culture which are Universalism versus Particularism, Individualism versus Communitarianism, Neutral versus Affective, Achievement versus Ascription, Specific versus Diffuse, Internal versus External control, and Sequential versus Synchronic. Universalism vs particulars: in Trompenaars’ framework factor universalism’ vs ‘particularism represents the degree of value of relationships. Japanese follow particularism in their response as well as codify the relation between people within the circumstances (Mindtools 1996-2016A). Neutral Vs Emotional: According to Trompenaars Neutral vs, Emotional dimension refers to the degree to which members of society freely display their feelings and thoughts in a deal. Japanese fall under the category of neutral culture as they are free to express their feelings spontaneously and positive use of body language and attitude is welcomed and accepted. (Mindtools 1996-2016A). Internal Direction Vs Outer direction concerns an individual’s response toward nature (Seven Dimensions 2005-2016). Japanese have an outer-directed culture. They live in harmony with their environment preferring the comfortable of altars and changes in the environment (Bihjelpen, 2015). Sequential time vs Synchronous time refers to the degree to which a member gives importance to time for a particular work (Seven Dimensions 2005-2016). Japanese synchronize the time. They have multiple projects running at a time considering the flexibility of time (Mindtools 1996-2016 A).
Challenges for American Investors Posed by Cultural Environment
In recent years, the importance of the paradigm of culture in business cannot be declined. The diverse environmental cultures have influenced investment. On the other side, there are also a few concerns causing challenges for American investors such as failure to communicate adequately because of the language barrier. In the same regard, understanding Etiquette in the workplace, for example, direct eye contact may differently mean and impact. it may be a problem in understating how to be addressed by the title, first name basis, or surname.
Opportunities for American Investors Posed by Cultural Environment
Along with challenges, Diversity in cultures also creates more betters experiences in business such as the elements of curiosity; Curiosity creates investment as a balance exists between the role of curiosity as a motivational force in Diverse cultures. On the other side, the Japanese follow particularism in their response as well as codify the relation between people within the circumstances. Also, support for transnational collaboration projects for developing the living standards of people is another opportunity for investors.
Failure to communicate adequately because of the language barrier found a big challenge for the American investor. This challenge can be overcome by using the context culture dimension from Hall’s framework. Japanese conversation style is of high context. Japanese communication is humble and polite with the use of fewer words (Nishimura et al. 2008). So, by keeping in mind these facts investors can prevail over the issue.
The challenges of understanding Etiquette in the workplace can be overcome by using the Fons Trompenaars’ Internal Direction Vs Outer direction culture dimension. It is found that the Japanese have an outer-directed culture. They live in harmony with their environment preferring the comfortable of alters and changes in the environment (Bihjelpen, 2015). So, by working on Trompenaars’ Internal Direction Vs Outer direction culture dimension, investors can get a better of the challenges of understanding Etiquette in the workplace.
Bihjelpen 2015, Fons Trompenaars,http://bihjelpen.blogg.no/1447366929_fons_trompenaars.html
Changing Minds 2002-2016, Hall’s cultural factors,http://changingminds.org/explanations/culture/hall_culture.htm.
Mindtools 1996-2016 A, The Seven Dimensions of Culture, https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/seven-dimensions.htm.
Hall, E., 1974. Handbook for proxemic research. Washington: Soc. for the anthropology of visual communication.
Keiko, M., 2015. Use of ‘noda’ in polite conversation : Focusing on the use among Koreans learning Japanese and Japanese native speakers. The Japanese Language Association Of Korea, 46, p.17.