This paper on global business cultural analysis on Japan aims to discuss the different elements and scopes of culture in Japan. It analyzes the impact of the elements on the general societal growth of japan and how it affects business operation in the country. It also analysis the cultural dimensions of the United States of America in comparison to Japan. In addition, it discusses the implication of American businesses that wish to conduct business in Japan. The aim is to get a better understanding of business operations in Japan and between Japan and America.
1.0 Major elements and dimensions of culture in Japan.
Culture consists of eight main elements and dimensions. They include communication, ethics, values, manners, attitudes, social structure, and customers (Satterlee, 2018). All eight factors affect the development of a society in a country. Hence the need for business to ensure a grasp of dimensions to ensure business operations locally or internationally.
Communication is a fundamental aspect of culture as it through this that it is formed. It enables interaction between people through which the characteristics of culture are created and shared. Communication occurs in every aspect of a person’s life. While people have different communication abilities, adequate communication skills are paramount depending on the context; in person, group conversations, formal or informal. Whether for personal or professional purposes, people should observe reasonable and proper communication skills to ensure a good relationship. Communication can be verbal, nonverbal, or through the internet. For communication to be successful, two parties must be willing to participate.
1.1.1 Communication in japan.
Japan is not a widely diverse country in terms of its population, but it is widely populated with over 126 million people (Glossary index 2019). With such a population, communication dynamics are exciting, and communication barriers are bound to exist. Japanese pattern of communication is direct and verbose. When communicating, the Japanese will rely more on the speaker’s body language or tonal voice to get the message and less on words. When speaking Japanese, people will often retrain their body language, for instance, often holding hands together to avoid gesturing in between conversations. Due to their ambiguous speech, especially when avoiding rejecting someone, one may want to use open-ended questions to get precise answers. Their body language may be confusing. Although different people communicate differently, the Japanese may laugh when passing bad news to diffuse an uncomfortable situation. They like to be polite during their communication. They often nod to show they hear the other party, but that does not always mean they agree.
The communication style is categorized as high context, meaning it is base4d on inherent communication (Liu, 2016). A piece of very implicit information communicates a lot when it comes to Japanese communication culture. Although Japanese avoid and their body language can be confusing, they have defined gestures that are very crucial to their culture. For instance, beckoning is rude unless between close people, displaying one’s feet soles is considered rude, silence before response reflects thought and politeness, bowing means greetings, hands together in the chest means apologizing or accepting something. The Japanese communication style can be termed as more relationship-oriented than purpose-oriented. Japanese may be guarded about having business dealings with a party if they suspect that a business entity or individual lacks harmony and cooperation within them. Japanese communication style is also largely influenced by crucial social aspects such as age, gender, relation identity contributing to the country’s social orientation.
1.2.1 Religion in Japan.
The Japanese religion dynamic comprises several components, with Shinto being the most popular and earliest religion in the country, Buddhism, Christianity Confucianism. According to annual statistical research on religion in 2018 by the Government of Japan’s Agency for Culture Affairs, Shinto is practiced by 69 percent of Japanese, followed by Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions. Japanese observe many customs, most of which originate from Buddhism and Shintoism, although many people in Japan identify as atheists.
Shinto is the earliest religion in japan. It is based on the traditional beliefs in japan and grounded by the relationship between man and nature. Shintoism believes that the world is full of spirits that, when appropriately treated they bring good things to people. Shinto is fluid and can coexist with other religions like Buddhism. Hence, it is not strange to find a Buddhist altar and Shinto shrines in a Japanese home as they can practice both simultaneously. On the other hand, Buddhism is grounded on the belief that man can achieve a state of enlightenment where they can experience love, wisdom clarity where they can see reality with clarity and exist in its purest form. To practice Buddhism is to lead a morally good life. They believe that there is suffering, its cause, end, and a path to its end.
In japan, values, and attitudes, etiquette and manners are fundamental in all aspects of life. They impact their personal, social, and professional lives. Every culture has to pass its core values to its people, family aspects, and educational journey. Japanese culture has evolved rapidly over the last few decades and has introduced modern aspects of life, but the traditional virtues remain rooted in the people.
Japan is one of the countries that have very deep-rooted core values. The values of thinking of others, respect to elders, hope, responsibility, accountability, teamwork are some of the values taught from nursery school into the working places. To pass from one grade to another, Japanese students take tough tests to teach them the importance of effort and enduring in reaching one’s goals. In social settings, identity and the cues to use towards each other are dependent on age, gender, sibling affiliation, and year of entry into a group. They believe in fair treatment. At the workplace, leadership is not determined by how assertive and first in decision-making abilities. Leaders are chosen by how good a person is in consensus and the ability to take keen on the needs f the subordinates. Hard work and loyalty are essential values, especially when employees are expected to work hard and stay loyal to their companies.
Ethics around different countries in the world are constantly changing as governments interact and conduct business internationally.
Ethics in Japan
Ethics are intertwined mainly with spirituality in Japanese culture. How people act and their thought process when choosing right or wrong in japan is influenced by Buddhism, Shintoism, and Confucianism. The spiritual aspect also sways the view of reality as a collective (Allen, 2018). They believe that as individuals and as a group, they have a spiritual aspect connected to the universe. Japanese ethics are categorized as conscious, described as the spiritual aspect, and unconscious, which is the social framework. Spiritual beliefs help personal growth concerning the universe. Spiritual beliefs guide a person to develop normative ethics and act per spiritual values. Japanese believe in the team and encourage each to work hard to achieve their potential goals. Within a social setting- family, local or national- norms such as protocols are put in place, and everybody is expected to adhere to them. The ethical framework in japan allows for protocols depending on the context. When experiencing difficulties, individuals and groups apologize not necessarily to accept guilt but to show humility, maintain harmony, and show respect. In the social unit made up of colleagues at work, it is ethical that one repays kindness and help received from the unit members. When it comes to wider circles, including the national or international people who are not close should not criticize each other openly. Respect and restraint are paramount. Japanese, because of their economic power, hold fairness as an essential tool in solving conflict. Business and the business executive must fairly execute their duties to customer’s shareholders and their employees. They must also ensure the corporate social responsibility of their business is fairly implemented.
1.5 Customs, etiquette, and manners.
In every culture, they exist regular behavior patterns that characterizes life in a social system. Methods or practices mainly used distinguishes one culture from another. Customs are essential for identity and can be used to grow a relationship between people of similar cultures.
Customs, etiquette, and manners in japan.
Japanese are very conscious when it comes to their customs, etiquette, and manners. It is vital to be familiar with the basic rules, especially when looking to form relationships with them. When greeting Japanese will bow. The bow depends on the context ranging from a small bump for informal settings to a deep bend at the waist o show respect. It is very uncommon to shake hands in japan. Its customary, good etiquette and good manners to remove shoes in people’s homes and some restaurants, castles, temples, and historic buildings. Tipping in restaurants in japan is customary. Chewing in public is considered discourteous. Quickly accepting compliments can be regarded as arrogant. It is deemed to be polite and modest to show slight hesitation before accepting an invitation. Both men and women have a specific way that is expected of them to sit. Quality gifting in japan is essential as it reflects the relationship between two parties. Punctuality, especially for formal meetings, is considered vital in Japanese, and in the case of lateness, an apology is highly appreciated. The exchange of business cards in a specific manner is a crucial initial stage before starting a meeting. By exchanging cards, the Japanese can quickly know the ranks and positions of the counterparts, making it easier to address them.
Among the social circles polite and reserved attitude is appreciated to save face of one another as confrontation, uncomfortable situation is discouraged and frowned upon. In case of disagreements among individuals, leaders of the teams/groups are expected to order formal protocol. The group interest is put ahead of an individual’s interests. Depending on an individual, the Japanese are known to be open-minded, receptive, and respectful to global cultures, while others are restrained in fear of opposing risks. Through social interactions mainly involving eating, Japanese like to develop a relationship with people. When it comes to business, they first want to know they can trust their partners hence build a relationship first.
1.6 Social structures and organizations.
People living in one culture have patterns in how they interconnect that are unique to them. Social structures and organizations help people help in connecting people to help one another.
1.6.1 Social structure and organization in Japan.
In Japan, from birth, one is believed to be autonomous, as they believe in an individual spirit element connected to the universe. However, society influences one from childhood on social interdependence. As a person grows, there is a mastery of interdependence from the family setting, schooling, and neighborhood to the workplace and the hierarchical position in society. Japanese will mainly identify with a group. The social structure in japan is founded on Japanese values that a person should not assertive but rather selfless and considerate of other people’s needs. This does not mean that the individualistic aspect is not appreciated as long as it does not interfere with the performance of public responsibilities. The workplace in japan widens a person’s social structures, especially in terms of friendships and resources, especially for men.
Education acts as perseveration of culture as the transmission of the cultural heritage are passed from one generation to another. Education can be used as a tool to develop cultures by integrating information from different cultural heritage. It acts as a channel to bring desirable change to values and culture to ensure the development of a society.
1.7.1 Education in japan.
Japanese school system comprises six years in elementary school, three years in junior high school, three years in senior high school, two or three years in junior colleges, or four years in college. The primary education in japan is the first nine years of their education system; elementary and junior high school. Mentally and physically challenged students to have a special need system that supports their development to enhance self-reliance and help them in social participation. Under the guidance of their teacher’s students with the same interest in different co-curricular activities, they gather together and form clubs. Through the groups, students are taught a sense of loyalty to their social groups. Japanese government subsidizes private schools with very high tuition charges to give students who would otherwise not afford a chance. Children are taught to maintain cooperation with peers in school, follow schools. In elementary they are taught the value of punctuality. Thorough cleaning of classrooms and desks, students are taught the importance of responsibility and stewardship. Leadership and social organization roles are taught through assigning students roles such as class monitoring. Teachers regard their responsibility as nurturing a holistic child. Teachers focus on hygiene, public speaking, nutrition, and sleep aspects that are uncommon in most education cultures. From senior high school, the hierarchical system of teacher-student, lecturer-student is instilled in students to prepare them for the social life in the society.
The ethics of the Japanese culture significantly affects business dealings. Integrating their spiritual normative business ethics impacts the long-term trades of a business. Japanese are traditionally a work-centric business culture. Integrating their normative spiritual ethics enhances their personal growth to support collective goals, whether in the industry ultimately. Japanese bring hard work, loyalty, fairness, and teamwork into their business.
Japanese value hard work and effort as they believe that they are on a path to enlightenment. With a career-oriented generation and holds family values, Japan has a rising pool of ethical professionals who put in the work to grow as individuals and collectively. Japanese are very loyal to their companies, which may not always be good, especially when they do not agree with the group but are more concerned with the collective growth and interests.
Japanese culture values collectivists over individualism and respects the hierarchical positions in society. The attitude in the workplace is always focused on achieving the business goal and how every person’s contribution towards its achievement. Because of the hierarchy in Japan, people always look up to the managers as examples or for guidance in the business. They accept advice in career growth and problem-solving from their leaders. However, they believe that anybody with hard work can climb up the hierarchy. People are also concerned with growing social status. They are constantly working on expanding their network and creating healthy relationships to grow their careers. The constant seeking for growth means that employees are talking to each other and leaders looking to climb the ladder in the organization or another organization.
Customs, Manners, and etiquette.
To be a successful professional in Japan, one has to understand and observe business manners. When conducting business, Japanese in their local dealings and social circles respect each other according to their positions in the society. Those at the bottom know when to address their supervisors. Integrating manners and etiquette as expected ensures respect and smooth running of their business.
Education culture in japan fosters the relative stability and unanimity, and harmonious nature within Japanese society. The societal problems that people might have been dealt with in schools by creating a caring environment. Education instills the same values and customs to Japanese children making it easier for them smoothly transition into the social world as Japanese. Education impacts business dealing among Japanese as they understand what is expected of the other, making operations smooth. Their education impacts them with the basics of operating in their culture, hard work, loyalty, fairness, and teamwork.
Power distance refers to how those are the bottom of the power hierarchy in a society expect and accept the inequalities in the community. People in Japan are always aware of their hierarchical position and act accordingly during occasions. This includes how they address others or decision-making. For instance, the process is slow as every level must be consulted before a final decision is made. However, it is believed that no matter your position in the hierarchy, one can work hard and rise in the hierarchy reducing the seemingly high power distance dimension in japan.
Individualism vs. collectivism.
This dimension addresses how people in a society are dependent on each other in a community. Even as demonstrated from the religion, the Japanese have both individual and group concepts. They, however, have harmony of a group among personal opinions has a core concept driving their culture which makes them a collectivistic society. However, they do not have a strong extended family system as other collectivistic countries like China and Korea. It is more of a paternalistic society where the son inherits the father’s name, and the other children had to leave and make their core families. Paradoxically, the Japanese hold great importance in loyalty when it comes to business than other collectivistic societies. Loyalty in business can be said to be an individualistic decision Japanese make since collectivistic is more loyalty to people a person is born with. Due to their individualistic nature, the Western cultures view japan as collectivistic, but the Asian cultures have a solid collective culture; hence, they view japan as an individualistic culture.
A masculine society is driven by competition, achievement, and success, with success being measured by the best in the field. This system starts from school all through to work life. On the other hand, a feminine dimension means that a society is more concerned with caring for one another and quality of life. Japan is a masculine society which combined with its aspect of collectivism, assertiveness, and competition among people from other masculine cultures, are not as evident among Japanese. More noticeable is competition between groups, whether its students during sports or motivated employees working against a competitor. Masculinity in Japan is expressed in the drive to have excellence and perfection in material production, services, presentation in all aspects of life. Japanese are workaholics who work long hours, making it hard for women to climb the cooperate ladders.
The dimension of uncertainty avoidance deals with how a society faces the fact the future is unknown. Japan is one of the highest uncertainty-avoiding countries in the world. The country is constantly experiencing natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and typhoons. With such occurrences, the country has learned to prepare itself for unpredictable things in all aspects of life. There are etiquette books in japan that prescribe behavior and outfits at weddings, funerals, and other critical social occasions. Cooperate japan puts money, time, and effort into feasibility tests before any project or risks are taken. Change is very difficult in Japan because of the high uncertainty avoidance that people have been accustomed to. Japanese culture has rituals from birth to death, and all ceremonies are taken with a lot of seriousness.
This dimension deals with how different societies maintain their past links while navigating current and future challenges. Japan, a normative society despite all the influences from western cultures, has remained true to some of its traditional core values. There are guided by good virtues and good examples and view their life as very short in a long line of humankind. An example of extended orientation in the business world is how the Japanese have high rates of investments in R&D even in unsteady economic times and higher own capital rate, priority to steady growth of market share rather than to a quarterly profit. They hold on to the notion that the companies are not there to make money quarterly but benefit the shareholders and the society for generations many generations in the future.
Indulgence as a dimension defines how people try to control their desires and impulses based on the environment they grew up in. Those who have less control over their desires are referred to as indulgence, while those with significant control are restraint. Japan is a restrained society putting less emphasis on leisure and great control of gratifying their desires.
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