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Cross Cultural Management

Executive Summary

In order to effectively manage a multicultural business environment, managers require having adequate knowledge of the various cultures and traditions of their employees. This is because the multicultural management process mainly focuses on the employee’s behavior. Considering that cultural identity assist people to feel as part and parcel of life and society, almost everybody will tend to associate with it. Such cross-cultural diversities are therefore inevitable even when it comes to people operating from different nations. There is a clear cultural difference between the American and the Japanese people. As companies tend to diversify their trade though joint ventures and multinational alliances, the cross-cultural management tend to be of great important to the current businesspeople. Different cross-cultural activity continues to hinder the smooth running of businesses in the two nations. There have been many reported instances where both communities fail to respect and be tentative to one another. Such limitations have thus continued to significantly influence the relation between the two communities. It is also argued that for a firm or organization to effectively interact cultural values of the diverse people needs to be considered.

Considering how people increasingly migrate due to the global economic variations, different cultures and values are therefore inevitable in most of the current business organization. Cross cultural management thus act as a professional field through which people from diverse cultures are assisted to effectively work together as a team. Managers also uses the cross cultural management knowledge and skills to assists the organization to establish strong policies for the organization. In most cases the special cultural knowledge also assists the managers to identify and meet the growing customer demands which are a critical undertaking in a firm. At all times managers will tend to make decisions and choices which suit the two cultural values in order to ensure consistency.

benefits

Introduction

The continued expansion of international trade has greatly led to the immigration of people from different countries and diverse cultures. The many joint ventures and multinational alliances have also necessitated cultural diverse people to work together in a given firm. The cross-cultural team working also aims at enhancing global competition in the international production and marketing practices. It should be noted that the cultural diverse workforce is highly productive and innovative and thus the majority of the multinational companies prefer to have such a team. However, there are many challenges that people working under such conditions continues to encounter regularly.

The managers in the various companies have thus been mandated to act swiftly and intelligently to ensure that employees work as a team despite their cultural differences. Current international companies have been able to understand that cross-cultural interdependency is something they cannot overrule. This knowledge have therefore enabled them to stay put and think of designing an efficient way through which cultural differences can be handled. Cross-cultural management thus act as a professional field through which people from diverse cultures are assisted to effectively work together as a team. Through the cross-cultural management, the international alliances and joint ventures are able to recognize and appreciate the cultural diversity in their corporations.

The human resource of such corporations is also entitled to ensure that the workforce is equally motivated and supported without biasness. Although there is no realistic and precise cross-cultural management technique which can assure effectiveness, firms have consistently improved its techniques in order to increase their productivity. This paper seeks to identify and analyse the cross-cultural differences that exist between American and Japanese people.

Historical background

Historically the Japanese and American people have had a hard time interacting with each other. This was so because the two communities consistently held a lot of suspicions on each other’s behaviours. There have been many reported instances where both communities fail to respect and be tentative to one another. Such limitations have thus continued to significantly influence the relation between the two communities. It is also argued that for a firm or organization to effectively interact cultural values of the diverse people needs to be considered.

Another factor which influences the interactions of the people within an organization includes the tasks and demands expected of them (Fisher & Ferreira, 2005). Additionally, the intergroup relationships, organization climate and personal aspirations also significantly affect the interaction between people. And since Fred Bailey is a manager who operate an office in the Japanese market, the cross-cultural differences between him and his employees significantly affects his business operations. As a manager, he ought to effectively deal with such differences appropriately. Cultural values and sensitivities should be used advantageously to win the employees support. It is however inevitable that Bailey as a manager ought to make viable decisions in order to counter the cultural differences.

According to Harrison (1996), there are various ways through which the decision-making process should be undertaken. It is important to set the managerial objectives first. The objectives in this case act as a guideline through which business transactions are exhibited. The objectives also enable the firm to attain its vision and missions. In order to be successful in a cross-cultural dimension, it is important to seek alternative measures which can enable the firm to meet its objectives. After a careful comparison of the various alternatives, the firm should choose the viable guideline depending on the environmental conditions.

Proper implementation process should be enforced in order to ensure that the objectives are efficiently realized. It is also important to establish proper follow-up and control measures which will ensure that no errors arise during the implementation process. According to Harrison model, it is important that Bailey defines the main cultural problem between the US and the Japanese people. The Proper cultural analysis also needs to be done on these two communities. The analysis section should seek to identify the behavioral trends of the Japanese people. It is important that Bailey familiarizes himself with the way the Japanese people transact their businesses (Elbanna, 2006).

For instance, it should be noted that the Japanese emphasis on gifts while doing their business something that is not common among the US people. The religious and appearance differences should also be considered before making final decisions for the company. After analyzing the cultural problems Bailey should consider identifying the decision criteria. The criterion which is efficient for him to use is the one which seeks to narrow the goals and objectives (Fish, 1999).

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Workplace difficulties

The cultural differences made it very hard for the US and Japanese people coexist in an organization. To start with the cultural belief that Japanese and the Americans should not sit together in a meeting makes it hard to communicate company ideas into the rest of the workers. The cultural difference also greatly affects the reporting system in the companies intending to venture in the Japanese market. A report compiled by an American resident, therefore, needs to be re-written by a Japanese resident in order to include the various key Japanese aspects which make it practical in the market. As a managing director, Bailer needs to understand that the Japanese people will in most cases fear to open up to an American counterpart.

The Hofstede’s (2005) concentrated much on the study of the IBM managers across the globe. More emphasis is enhanced to ensure that the manager predicts the cultural differences before making any special decision. According to him the power distance should be considered as the extent through which the less powerful members of the organization accept power distribution. It is evident that where the company gets a leader from a far distance, the less powerful subordinates will either accept and thus totally work together with the leader or reject his rule. In Bailey’s case, the Japanese staffs seem to have rejected his rule since his ideas and plan is written based on the American perspective (Harrison, 1996).

As a manager, Bailey will require to seek their support as it is important in order to ensure that the company’s objectives are accomplished. According to the power distance argument, subordinate with a low power will tend to be afraid of approaching a superior power distant leader. That is why the Japanese staffs are refuses to express their views to Bailey in the company’s meetings.

Hofstede (1993) further emphasizes that individualism and collectivism are major factors in the cross-cultural managements. More emphasis should always be put to group interests instead of individual interests. This is because the group interest shows collectivism in a given organization while individual interests may cause divisions in the same. The individual and group interests are compared to the minority and the majority interests where the majority interests always prevail. The collectivistic model will seek to encourage collective learning and consensus decision-making which works positively to the organization.

It also seeks to empower workers since it allows collective participation. As a leader, Bailey should purpose to see that there is collectivism in his new office. This should be done by ensuring active participation of the staff members in the running of the organization. Since Bailey is a male leader, a masculine dimension should be put in place. Men are in this case required to be assertive and focused (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005). Despite the cultural difficulties that Bailey continues to experience, it is important that he retain his focus and direction on the success and completion of the task ahead of him. The masculinity perspective should also guide him to focus in developing a career for people live to work and not work to live. Bailey should, therefore, consider the new appointment in the Tokyo branch as a privilege to grow his career. He should, therefore, be encouraged to overcome the cross-cultural differences that he faces in his new assignment.

There is also an uncertainty avoidance dimension in the Hofstede (1994) which seeks to analyze how people prefer structured and unstructured situations in a given country. This also includes the country’s culture to have either a written or unwritten rules to guide people within the organization. Since the Japan have strong uncertainty avoidance, the employees turnover will be relatively low compared to that reported in the US market. It is also appropriate that Bailey acknowledges the fact that the Japanese staffs will prefer to implement rather than to invent policies and structures. Such understanding will enable him to be effective in his work. Finally, it is important that Bailey acknowledges the long-term short-term time orientation of the task. His efforts towards establishing new objectives for the new branch in Tokyo should aim at realizing both short-term and long-term objectives (Schuler & Jackson, 2007).

Cultural values in Japan

It is important to understand that most of the Japanese management values are based on group work. As a result, the manager and supervisors are required to maintain a close relationship with their subordinate staffs (Tjosvold & Leung, 2003). Since loyalty, dependency and gratitude’s and endurance are the key attributes in the Japanese market, Bailey should consider maintaining a close connection with his Japanese staffs. It is important to understand that most of the Japanese attitudes and actions are closely guided and coordinated by their social-cultural values.

As a result, the job commitment between the two communities tends to differ significantly. Additionally, the job satisfaction for the Japanese workforce is relatively low compared with the US counterparts. While the American people work towards ensuring that they exhibit the best face in any event, the Japanese will tend to describe events in a more pessimistic manner. They, therefore, tend to have humility and mostly understate their transactions and events (Silverthorne, 2005). Despite the fact that the Japanese people tend to have a relatively low job satisfaction, it is important to understand that this can be a positive attribute if utilized effectively. The cultural values such as humility, participation, consensus building and group loyalty values are some of the notable positive aspects which managers should consider utilizing. The managers working in a cross-cultural firm should also be sensitive in order to ensure that the staffs from the various cultural diversities are effectively guided (Fisher & Hartel, 2003).

Considering the fact that the American cultures are more individualistic, Bailey ought to acknowledge that the Japanese people recognize and effectively work within a team. Such an understanding will help him establish workable teams within the organization. As a manager, he will also be required to coordinate the smooth functioning of these groups in order to ensure that they work towards realizing the overall company’s objectives.

Position on the ground

Since the Tokyo office comprised of both American and Japanese staffs, Bailey should consider implementing multicultural management in his leadership. Such leadership will assist him to motivate both the American and the Japanese workforce. He should also encourage workforce interaction which will improve team working in the organization. Since the American personnel are mostly positioned as associate consultants and research analyst, they should work closely with the Japanese staffs in their work (Jassawalla & Truglia, 2004). The Americans should also assist the Japanese staffs to come up with effective reports since they will be more conversant with the data collected. It is therefore advisable for Bailey to encourage team working and workforce integration since its only through such cooperation that the organization will be able to attain its objective.

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Family problem

Considering that this is a new country, both Bailey and his family will have some copping hardships. The children and the wife will experience a lot of problems in adapting to the new environment. Communication and language barrier is one of the major aspects which disorient the family in their new Tokyo home. Bailey and the family are however lucky since the company is willing to pay for all the travelling and maintenance expenses that he incurs in course of his work. The provision of proper housing will assist Bailey and family to settle in the new environment.

It is also generous of the company as they purpose to provide a car and a driver and meet all the children educational expenses for Bailey. However, despite all this, the cross-cultural differences between the US and Japan will affect the family’s operations. For instance, the wife needs to start working since the children have attained the age of attending school (Stewart). As a fashion designer, it is important that she first learn the Japanese language. This is because she will require having effective communication skills which will enable her pursuing her career. It will also be difficult for the children to cope in their new school due to the communication barrier. But since the assignment was very important to Bailey, it is important that he considers staying in the new Tokyo office.

However, as a person, it is important that he explain to the wife and the children on the need to stick to the plan. It is also important that he explain to them that they should adjust to the new environment. For the two girls, they were quick to adjust and fit into the Japanese schools. However, one of the girls found it hard to fully adjust into the new environment as she felt disconnected socially (Joplin & Shaffer, 2003). First, it was hard for her to watch television and also play with the rest of the Japanese kids due to the language barrier. This made her spend most of her time alone as there is no one to give her company and share view and ideas with.

The situation worsened when the wife started complaining of not been able to access some of the basic items which the family requires. The items were in this case only found in one outlet stores and they were being sold at a very high price. She also lacked someone to communicate with while the children are at school and the husband is at work. To her, the new Tokyo home has done nothing but to disorient her from her normal life. Family pressure, therefore, affected Bailey since the reason why people would opt to engage in such tasks is to ensure that the family gets the best and that they gets the best that the world can offer. This, therefore, gave Bailey a tough time since despite his determinations; his family never enjoyed their stay in Japan (Hoon & Kline, 1993).

Conclusion

Managers should seek to efficiently utilize their abilities and skills in cross-cultural management whenever they are position in such a situation. Since the Tokyo office comprised of both American and Japanese staffs, Bailey should consider implementing multicultural management in his leadership. Such leadership will assist him to motivate both the American and the Japanese workforce. He should also encourage workforce interaction which will improve team working in the organization. It is important to understand that most of the Japanese management values are based on group work.

As a result, the manager and supervisors are required to maintain a close relationship with their subordinate staffs. Since loyalty, dependency and gratitude’s and endurance are the key attributes in the Japanese market, Bailey should consider maintaining a close connection with his Japanese staffs. More emphasis should always be put to group interests instead of individual interests. This is because the group interest shows collectivism in a given organization while individual interests may cause divisions in the same. The individual and group interests are compared to the minority and the majority interests where the majority interests always prevail. The collectivistic model will seek to encourage collective learning and consensus decision-making which works positively to the organization. It also seeks to empower workers since it allows collective participations. It is also appropriate that Bailey acknowledges the fact that the Japanese staffs will prefer to implement rather than to invent policies and structures. Such understanding will enable him to be effective in his work.

Recommendation

Bailey should effectively streamline the organizational leadership by encouraging team working and collective interaction. Mutual understanding should be applied in the decision making process as it encourages consensus building. In order to effectively deal with the family problems, Bailey should consider spending most of his leisure time with the family. He should also explain to his wife the importance of the task and why they have to settle in Tokyo. In order to enable the wife to fit into the new environment, Bailey should advise her to undertake a language course which will enable her to interact with her neighbours. For the little girl, Bailey should purpose to have the internet connection which will enable the child access her favourite programs online.