Why don`t Japanese go home right after work?

Westerners often wonder why Japanese continue to work after hours. In Japan, however, 5pm just means the end of the official work-day. Unofficial work usually continues into the night – unless there are extenuating circumstances. Rarely does after five mean private time. [CONTINUE]

Why do Japanese work so late? Are Japanese more productive than Westerners because of their late hours?

This kind of behavior is hard for Westerners to understand, through some Westerners feel great loyalty to their companies, giving up dinner with their families in order to get the job done.

In Japan, as in other Asian countries, people have to get to know each other and build a good relationship before they start to do business. Even though you may agree about work-related affairs, you can`t really be part of the team if you are a stranger.

People in Japanese companies frequently visit the offices of their important clients and new customers. Practically the entire day of a manager or salesperson consists of such visits and meetings. Thus, they don`t really begin to tackle the accumulated desk-work – such as invoicing and product research – until evening. Also, Japanese try to achieve consensus among as many people as possible before making a decision. This requires frequent discussion meetings just to gain approval, and eats into available work time during the day.

This is why most people return to the office for the first time at about 5pm, where they relax and deal with the work piled up on their desk.

When evening fall, many people return to the office, including employees who were out visiting customers, department managers who were in training all day. This is when staff members of the various departments get to see each other, just like a family.

In Japan, employee turnover is low, especially when compared to the West, although it has increased somewhat in recent years. The same staff members have worked together for a long time. There are not just dry relationships derived from business, but close relationships which extend to the personal.

Department members get together after 5pm to relax and discuss what happened during the day, exchanging customer-related gossip or information about internal affairs.

Japanese stay late in order to be part of the circle of communication and to networl. At about 7pm, bosses and their underlings sometimes go out drinking together. It`s not that Japanese always stay late to work. Rather, they stay late to build relationships. In real terms, the practice is not all that productive.


Why Japanese act differently in different environments?

Foreigners who go out drinking with Japanese are often surprised when someone rigid and polite suddenly opens up after a few drinks. It`s almost asa if he or she has become a different person entirely.[CONTINUE]

It was mentioned previously that Japanese express their opinions more directly when out drinking. The reason has to do with the concept of BA(場/place), which is very important in doing business in Japan.

America has the phrase One-minute Manager. This refers to the idea that it is good for a manager to warn, praise, or give instructions to staff that someone who can give easy-to-follow instructions quickly and succinctly is a capable manager.

The One-minute manager might not function so effectively in Japan, however people carefully differentiate between formal and informal places or environments. Official or formal places are the office, meeting room, or conferences. Unofficial or informal places are neutral locations where one meets to exchange and elaborate on individual opinions. Of course, bars are informal, unofficial places.

Let`s assume that during a meeting, you disagree with someone else`s idea. If you disagree in public, it may cause the other person to lose face, especially if that person is your superior or an important client.

Therefore, during the meeting, you shouldn`t disagree with the other person`s opinion. However, if you insist on expressing your opposition, you might do it in the following way: ask for mediation. Then, exchange ideas in a casual location with the third party present. Don`t do this in the office. In Japan, it`s extremely important to create the right occasion for such situations.

The distance between boss and subordinate also lessens. Therefore, the subordinate can express his or her honest opinion about company issues and problems.

Important messages about business are often conveyed following a drinking session. For instance, it is not uncommon for people to make the next deal in the taxi ride home, since they feel relaxed and open, ot they may talk about the decision maker`s opinion in a casual manner.

The next day everyone returns to the original BA and acts as if nothing happened the night before – with one exception. Mysteriously, yesterday`s problems are now solved, or business affairs which had been stalled are now settled.

Unofficial or informal BA provide a powerful tool. No one mentions the verbal promises which were made while drinking or while in the taxi going home the night before. Meetings begin as usual and people sit quietly and politely during them.

A Japanese department manager once said, My job is to let client drink. He wasn`t joking. How well you use the informal network and build interpersonal relationships is key in making business succeed in Japan.

Foreigners who admire the One-minute Manager might find the concept of BA hard to understand. For them, it`s a Japanese mystery that will remain unsolved.


Why do Japanese take so long to make decision?

One thing that Westerners extremely is Japanese business people`s refusal to make fast decisions. [CONTINUE]

Even when the person is in charge, he or she won`t give a definite yes or no. Instead, you will probably be asked for lots of resources and information, but you won`t give a definite YES or NO. Instead, you will probably be asked for lots of resources and information, but you won`t know how they`re going to be used and will be forced to wait it out. You might even begin to question your contact person`s competence.

In Japan, an individual`s decision-making authority is more limited than in order countries. The reason is simple: in Japan, internal company consensus is required in order to make a major decision. A project can`t progress without the approval – not only of those directly involved, but also of various departments that will help bring the project to completion, and those in management as well.

A project is publicly begun only after approval all the way up to the company president has been received. All the many risks must be foreseen and the necessary. Revisions carried out in prder for it to gain full approval.

Therefore, once a project is begun it is hard to change or abandon it. A project is usually completed in a short amount of time, since it has already taken so much time to make the decision and everyone is behind it.

In the West, a project can be initiated relatively easily by the contact person, or at the departmental level if the budget permits. When Westerners come across the Japanese decision-making process for the first time, they are often confused since they don`t know when things really start.

In the United States and other places, a project or plan can be changed along the way, since all the risks were not necessarily accounted for when the initial decision was made. Additionally, the schedule is often delayed due to economic factors, and the budget revised. After the decision is made, a process of trial and error begin to bring the process to fruition.

Great misunderstandings arise when people are unaware of these differences in decision making. Americans can readily change plans after a decision is made, but this is most often almost impossible in Japan.

Americans therefore, get the idea that Japanese are inflexible. And Japanese misunderstand Americans who purpose changes late in the decision-making process – they feel they`re wasting time and lack a sense of responsibilities. Actually, many Japanese who work in the United States feel frustrated that Americans don`t keep deadlines.

Certainly both decision-making methods have their strengths and weaknesses. The Japanese strength is initial decision, so they have a very detailed project outline with few glitches in its execution. On the other hand, they`re vulnerable to rapid changes in circumstances or urgent situations, and since it`s taken so much time to arrive at the initial decision, thsy don`t have a lot of leeway in the remaining schedule.

The American decision-making style is useful for winning tough competition, because it is quick and action-oriented. However, friction with overseas partners occurs easily since the initial agreement is likely to keep changing. Employees and subcontractors may start to feel it is risky to trust the company and think twice about putting all their effort into the plan.

Consensus is necessary in making the initial decision, so Japanese must gather the necessary resources, statistics and past precedents along the way in order to persuade top management. If there is even the slightest risk, they discuss it again and formulate an avoidance plan. Each time this occurs, the Japanese ask more questions of the Americans who submitted the plan. Americans who don`t understand the Japanese decision-making style think, What are those Japanese doing? They demanded cooperation from us, but nothing`s happening. I wonder if I can trust them. If circumstances are not explained in an understandable way, and if response to such an explanation are not flexible, this kind of misunderstanding can have unfortunate result.


Why don`t Japanese change their minds after a decision has been made?

Many Westerners say they understand that he decision-making process is a long one, but Japanese are too stubborn once they`ve decided upon something. I wish they were more flexible, they say. It`s odd that they stick to things that were decided years ago without re-evaluating them in term of current circumstances.[CONTINUE]

It is true that once something has been decided on, Japanese are very reluctant to change it. But why?

The reason has to do with a process called NEMAWASHI(根回し), a word originally used to refer to the transplantation of a plant or tree. It means to dig around the perimeter of the main roots, preserving them and cutting off peripheral roots. NEMAWASHI has now come to refer to an important practice in Japanese business culture.

NEMAWASHI refers to the practice of seeking agreement from one`s boss, those related to the project, and one`s superiors, before anything is suggested publicly or opinions are given. After NEMAWASHI has been completed at a meeting because everyone has already discussed it. This is usually the process, unless political reasons come into play and force the project to be dropped, or the president suddenly comes in and opposes it.

The important thing to note about this process is that it is done completely informally. One never does NEMAWASHI during a meeting! Simple NEMAWASHI can probably be done on an individual basis at the office, but important matters are discussed on golf trips or at restaurants.

Big decisions require that many rounds of NEMAWASHI occurs at the various decision stages. If someone still objects to the proposal, a third party is asked to mediate.

What would happen if changes were made to something which has been decided through this arduous process? Such changes might let down everyone involved in the NEMAWASHI who had certain expectations of the project. In order to keep people involved and informed, yet, another NEMAWASHI would have to be done, requiring even more energy than the first one. Changing plans incurs risk and takes a lot of effort, and in some cases, tarnishes a person`s reputation. This is why things are rarely changed once they`ve been decided.

Since many foreigners are unfamiliar with the idea of NEMAWASHI, misunderstandings can occur. For Westerners, meetings are used to make suggestions and then to discuss them. On the other hand, Japanese can be thrown off by impromptu suggestions which come without NEMAWASHI, because they don`t know how to handle the situation.

For Japanese, meetings are not the place for discussions. Rather, they are set up as preparation for NEMAWASHI, or for approval and confirmation once the NEMAWASHI process is over. Therefore, Westerners attending such meetings may say any number of things during such meetings, but no little avail. Obviously, they leave such meetings feeling disappointed because they have been paid little attention. Many of them express anger and feel that Japanese always talk about things amongst themselves without including others.

Why don`t they fight back with their own opinions? foreigners wonder. If they are unaware of the subtle process of NEMAWASHI, they may get irritated with the long wait, feel excluded from the consultation process, and be disappointed with the result. They may come back with new approaches, such as, If that`s the way it is, then we`d like to make another suggestion. We want you to listen to it. But usually by that time it is too late and changes are no longer possible.


Why aren`t Japanese promoted soon after joining a company?

Japanese are often embarrassed when they introduce themselves to foreigners because their business cards contain no titles, whereas the other person`s card has manager or director printed on it. As a result, Westerners are not sure of their Japanese counterpart`s position and wonder if he or she is really the right person to participate in the discussion.[CONTINUE]

Recently, Japanese companies are becoming sensitive to other countries conditions. Some now have English business cards with manager printed on them just for use with foreigners. However, these people are just ordinary employees with no titles in Japan. Everyone knows that if takes more than 10 years for the average employee to receive the first promotion.

In America a person is given the title of manager if he or she can handle a certain level of work, regardless of age, it usually becomes KACHO(課長). In reality, this just means the person in charge. Japan ans the West have different way of thinking about titles.

The West doesn`t have the kind of age-based system of evaluation Japan does. In japan, many people who have been with the same company for more than 10 years do important work yet remain without a title. In most cases, regardless of what kind of work you`re doing, you don`t receive an official title until you reach a certain age.

Sometimes director is translated as BUCHO(部長). In the West, it is common to find a director who is only in his or her 30s, but this is extremely rare in large Japanese companies, where normally people who are promoted to the director position are in their 40s.

Although the situation has changed recently because of the economic recession, large Japanese companies typically hire for lifetime employment. During the long relationship between individual and company, the employee become a pro at the company rather than a pro at a particular job.

For employees of large companies, it is most important to do the work the company gives them, build a network of relationship in the company, and become weill-informed about all aspect of the company`s business. Actually, Japanese companies utilized a system of rotating the operation of many departments. This is unrelated to the employee`s area of expertise.

This is why a Japanese introduces him or herself by giving his name as so-and-so of marketing.

In this kind of environment there is no necessary for immediate promotion. Japanese spend a long time learning the company`s culture and business. They are not just pursuing their own career, but also being loyal to the company. The first promotion comes only after mutual recognition by employee and company that they are able to continue working together for a long time.

As we have seen, age itself is a big factor in promotion. In Japan, people graduate form college, join the company at the same age – typically 22 every year. They are promoted in rank according to the length of time they have been with the company – that is, according to their age.

Japanese firms are increasingly beginning to wuestion the traditional systems of seniority-based promotion and lifetime employment. We see more and more cases of companies headhunting excellent people from outside for important positions. Even so, it is rare that these top-notch people are recruited by another company once they reach their early 30s.

Even when people change jobs, the amount of time they were at their previous companies and how much they were trusted will greatly influence their new careers. This is quite different from the West, where it is common practice to spruce up one`s resume by changing companies to build expertise in a particular area.


Why Japanese bosses meddle in the private affair of their subordinate?

An American who worked in a Japanese company complained about Japanese supervisors interfering with the private affairs of their subordinates. [CONTINUE]

Shortly after he started working at a Japanese company, his boss invited him out to dinner, where he asked him if he had a girlfriend and when he planned to get married. Then, when he answered a question about how much rent he was paying, his boss admonished him. Living in such an expensive place is a luxury for a young guy like you. When you are young you should suffer, or you won`t succeed. The American remembered thinking this was none of his boss`s business. It`s my problem, not his. I`m suffering plenty already by working at a Japanese company in a completely unfamiliar environment.

In Japan, there is a thin line between business and private matters. SENPAI(先輩 more senior employees)and supervisors readily invade the privacy of young employees. Westerners who keep their personal lives separate from their work lives think this is very intrusive.

Of course, Japanese have their own reasons for this. These become obvious when looking at the superior-subordinate relationship. In Japan, it is considered natural that one should make every effort to look after the relationship between oneself and one`s immediate boss.

The boss, as a SENPAI, should be given the utmost respect. This is especially true in large Japanese companies that have lifetime employment. Imagine the intimacy of this connection, where the relationship with one`s boss countries until person retires.

Naturally, over the years, various events such as personnel transfers, overseas postings, and transfers to local branches within Japan occur. The boss, as SENPAI, often continues to maintain a close relationship with the employee even after any or all these events have occurred.

The boss often manages his department as if it were a family and he were the head(most bosses are still male in major Japanese companies, although this is slowly changing, especially in certain industries such as retail or fashion). An excellent boss is someone who is admired by this surbordinates as an older brother or parental figure. Younger department members develop as professionals by observing their boss`s work habits. In this context, it is not so out of line for a boss to get involved in his subordinate`s personal affairs.

A Japanese supervisor will even introduce a prospective marriage partner to a subordinate and play the role of the go-between during the marriage ceremony. With younger employees, the boss goes so far as to teach them how to get along in daily life.

The boss who can manage his subordinates well is seen by the company ass a capable superior. His ability to manage his department smoothly affects his future promotions. If a subordinate makes a big mistake, or in the unfortunate case where he or she commits a crime, often both boss and the subordinate take responsibility for it. When a negative incident occurs, the boss is treated as if he or she were a parent who neglected his child`s upbringing. As such, doubts about his qualifications as a leader surface.

This traditional type of supervisor and subordinate relationship is beginning to appear less nowdays. Younger employees brought up in a more economically affluent and liberal atmosphere don`t take this kind of relationship as seriously, seeing it as the old way of relating. There is increasing preference for more business-like associations.

In fact, the system of lilfetime employment itself is being questioned by younger people themselves, and many more say they would take another job if their work was no longer interesting. These young people no longer follow their boss unconditionally just because he is the boss.

Given these new customs and values, how will the organization of large Japanese companies change? The over-40s SENPAI of the older generation seem to feel very uncomfortable with the attitudes of young employees.


Why are areas of responsibility unclear in Japanese companies?

When I point out an American`s mistake, he immediately makes an excuse and says it`s not his responsibility! It makes me so angry! Almost all Japanese working in the U.S. with American subordinates respond in this way if you ask them about attitudes towards responsibility.[CONTINUE]

Americans would respond The Japanese way of communicating is too vague. Not only that, the boundaries of responsibility are ambiguous, too. I find it difficult to see how I`m supposed to make a contribution to the company.

In Japanese companies, everyone works together to accomplish the company`s goals, and the entire group takes responsibilities. Areas of individual responsibility do exist, but they are largely undefined. Group consensus is sought, and projects are advanced on this basis. Questions and complaints from outside are dealt with by the company as a whole. Praise is given to those who catch previously undetected problems and correct the mistakes of subordinates; a good boss will take responsibility for mistakes and correct them with the help of others.

The relationship of American workers with their companies is more contractual. Job applicants present themselves to the company as having a particular skill set, and they are hired to accomplish certain tasks. The area of individual responsibility is clearly determinded. Promotions and pay raised are determined based upon outstanding achievement within that area.

In America, one must protect one`s work domain. In older to preserve professional standing, when a mistake is made that is not one`s own fault, an employs doesn`t hesitate to protest to his boss that cause may be somewhere else, or that instructions were unclear. Japanese see this type of behavior as inappropriate self-justification.

Misunderstandings often arise from value differences between Japanese and American society. In Japan, people apologize for the sake of preserving group harmony. In America, the sense of professionalism is informed by a deep-seated individualism.

Japanese think, I`ll just apologized and refrain from making excuses… American think, Since this job is part of my professional path to the future, if someone accuses me unjustly or holds me responsible for something that was not part of my job, I have a natural right to protest clearly and logically.

Americans feel that to admit a mistake is to acknowledge a deficiently in their professional skill, which would affect their next promotion and jeopardize their personal career. Naturally, they take mistakes very seriously. This is hard for Japanese to understand, since they take responsibility as a group whenever there is a problem.

Both group-oriented thinking and individual-oriented thinking have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Recently, people in America think that dividing up work responsibilities too much can create negative side effect: people mai ignore vital tasks that fall into the gaps between different job descriptions, or fail to acknowledge real errors that need to be analyzed and corrected. Conversely, since individual responsibility is vague in Japan, it is not uncommon to hear the criticism even amongst Japanese themselves that leadership skill don`t the chance to develop, accountability is vague, and decision-making far too much time.

It would be best to build a work environment that fully incorporates the best trails of both ways of thinking. Underlying cultural differences in perceptions about responsibility, however, make it quite hard to integrate them.


Why do Japanese tend to stay with the same group?

Americans often express curiosity and surprise about the Japanese traditions of lifetime employment and long-term relationships with bosses and mentors. [CONTINUE]

This immobility strikes them as unreasonable. Why do Japanese tend to stay with the same job, even though other opportunities arise? Why do they think patience is always a virtue? Why do they change jobs and lifestyles if things are not going well?

Americans generally think of a group of people as a team. Professional baseball provides a good example. A player has his own area to field, which regulates his duties on the team. Of a ball is hit between two players fielding ranges, they confirm vocally who will get it. Of course, the goal of the team is to win, and everyone celebrates and hugs each other when a hard-fought victory is achieved. But when the season ends, a player may well go to a different team if it offers better contract teams. And he will play hard for the new team, setting aside his friendships and solidarity with the previous team.

The Japanese style of group behavior, on the other hand, is best represented by SUMO(相撲). After apprentices enter a training stable, they stay there for a long time. Even when the season ends, they don`t change stables. They view their stablemaster as a parent, and serve their mentors slavishly. They devote a long time to learning their sport, and practice daily. They don`t complain openly, even when something is unreasonable. Endurance is considered part of the training. In return, the stable takes care of them until they retire. If they get promoted and do well, they will eventually take over the stable, or are given the chance to set up a new stable by the SUMO Association, an even bigger group unto itself.

The difference between being a member of an sumo stable can also be seen in the differing workplace and work mentalities of Americans and Japanese.

From the Japanese standpoint, Americans are too conscious about protecting the boundaries of their areas of responsibility. Americans seem somewhat distant in that they move on to other things once a project is done, almost as if no interpersonal relationships developed over the course of the project.

In fact, I`ve heard many complaints from Japanese who have contacted the person in charge of product development or contract negotiations for after-sale service – only to be told that it is no longer his responsibility and the team disbanded after the project`s completion. For their part, Americans criticize Japanese for not clarifying their needs at the beginning. If only they had done this, they say, they could have set up a better system for customer service – an online system to manage complaints, for example.

It`s not only a question of the system. It`s a matter of relationships. That`s what customers want most, the Japanese would say.

Americans have a ghard time understanding this way of thinking. It seems like a kind of forced togetherness for Americans, who look for the best match between their career goals and the needs of a particular team. The Japanese mentality values belonging to the same group almost regardless of these other factors. Americans feel the Japanese way is irrational and inefficient.

These different approaches give rise to the risk of disturb between the two sides. Even though both sides say they want good teamwork, there is a basic difference in what good teamwork looks like to them. Japanese try to do business on the basis of long-term interpersonal relationships. Americans see a team as a group of people working together on a particular project. This difference lies behind many more serious misunderstandings than one might think.


Why do Japanese say The customer is God?

Americans don`t understand the Japanese saying that The customer is God. They feel that customers are just human beings. Although these may seem like mere harmless statements, they betray important differences in the way Americans and Japanese do business.[CONTINUE]

Naturally, customers are very important to Americans. They try to take the customers needs into account, making an effort to give satisfying service. However, Americans believe that since customers are only human, everyone should be treated equally. The relationship between customer and supplier is a relatively equal business relationship, even to the point where it is possible to speak of a partnership between the two.

They question the efficiency of the Japanese process of taking a long time to build a relationship with a customer. Is it worth getting a customer if it means that time, energy and even money are wasted in the process?

Americans often feel doubts about the Japanese way of doing business. They say, Well, another customer will come along soon. It`s better to find a customer who`s willing to sign a contract quickly. Why don`t Japanese try to find these kinds of customers? Business is business. Why can`t they do things more rationally and focus more on profits?

The Americans stance is that providing people agree to something of mutual interest and benefit, they should work together. Americans want to sign a contract at the very start to avoid problems arising from misunderstandings – not because they don`t trust their business partners, but because by signing a contract they will instantly create mutual trust. In Japan, the relationship is given priority, so if negotiations immediately begin with a contract, the assumption will be that there is a lack of trust or that it`s a ploy to get money fast.

In America, if there is a change in the delivery date due to extenuating circumstances with the client, or if service is delayed due to customer lateness in supplying information, the supplier can make adjustments vis-à-vis the customer from a position of equality because a contract exists. In other words, if the client requests a rush job, the supplier can naturally charge separately for it. It`s generally understood that the customer will take responsibility for problems caused by changes in his own situation. Americans don`t understand it when the Japanese customer, as God, says to the Japanese supplier I want you to get this done for me at all costs and the supplier responds Yes, I understand. I am indebted to you always. An American seeing this will think, This Japanese businessman is his customers flunkey. What weak person.

Japanese see it differently. When a customer makes an unreasonable request, trying to meet it is an opportunity to build an even better relationship. Once a solid relationship is built, that customer will continue buying services or products almost indefinitely. It becomes a You-scratch-my-back-and-I-will-scratch-yours kind of relationship. The customer is impressed by the salespersons diligence. He took all that trouble on my behalf, he thinks, or, He came to visit me so many times. It`s not an overstatement to say that eagerness and making the customer aware of your efforts is a sales technique as important as the quality of the goods themselves.

Japanese customers judge suppliers by the extent to and enthusiasm with which they take on their work. Therefore, the first order they place is small, to confirm that the seller will deliver the goods in perfect condition. Since this is the first order, it`s extremely difficult to compensate for any loss of reputation that may be caused by mistakes. This includes maintaining the delivery schedule and paying attention not just to the goods themselves, but to the packaging as well. The paperwork must also be prepared probably and with due courtesy, and effort must be made to provide service after delivery. Beyond that, even with no specific business at hand, the supplier will often visit the customer, offering him information about the industry, resources, or materials that may be of use. At times, he might even take him out for dinner. These kinds of actions forge good business relationships.

Once relationships are established, Japanese customers will do their best to honor them. According to Japanese business custom, once a customer betrys this relationship, it impacts the credibility of the customer himself. Effort is made, acknowledged and appreciated. This is the complex web of interaction behind the Japanese mentality that The customer is God.


Why do Japanese bosses reprimand their subordinates?

One thing that Westerners working in Japanese companies find hard to tolerate is that Japanese seldom if ever praise their work. Even worse, they may get criticism despite all their effort. Frustration mounts, and foreigners in Japanese companiea often end up quitting quite soon. What signals are getting crossed between Western employees and Japanese employers?[CONTINUE]

Japan and the West have a fundamental difference in business philosophy. In the West, managers are trained to praise subordinates on the spot when a job is well done, and to offer constructive feedback if something goes wrong. It is typical for a manager to give this kind of feedback directly to the subordinate, and it is through this kind of ongoing dialogue that employees are motivated and their performance improve.

Feedback given both informally and in performance appraisals naturally leads to discussions about wage increases and promotions, which may provide further evidence that the company values an employee. The manager`s assessment carries considerable weight.

In Japan, employees are not evaluated according to a carefully determined work field. Rather, individuals are part of a group, so unspoken trust should develop in the process of building a long-term relationship with one`s boss. If an individual takes the risk of verbally confirming his or her own progress, it may have the opposite effect of appearing to call that trust into question.

The will to work and learn is instilled in subordinates through harsh words from their superiors. Japanese use the word SHITTAGEKIREI(叱咤激励). This expression means that if no one bothers to scold you, it`s because you are hopeless. So a boss is hard on his subordinates, particularly on the young ones, in the same way that a parent scolds a child in order to help it mature. This is known as the whip of love, and a boss uses it to help his staff acquire company know-how. The closer the relationship between boss and subordinate, the more he may use it.

Westerners often misunderstanding this whip of love. In the business world, they tend to take words at face value, so if harsh words are used they assume they`re being negatively evaluated.

Westerners at Japanese companies are almost never praised. If their boss does say something, it is usually negative. They become insecure and hurt, and a vicious cycle ensues. Since they have been doing good work, they try to protect their position by disagreeing with their boss and explaining what they have done. A Japanese subordinate just accepts reprimands silently with a HAI(Yes), and usually can`t understand why Westerners try to defend their positions. They often assume that they are being lazy and arrogant.

Westerner managers, particularly Americans, are careful first to praise the subordinates strengths or accomplishments – even when their basic intention is to caution or reprimands. The approach is then to correct the problem areas. After that the good points are reinforced once again. When Americans accustomed to this kind of approach are reprimanded by Japanese, they are shocked and take it quite personal.

Unfortunately, many Westerners who quit Japanese companies do so because of this gulf between different styles of giving feedback and appraising performance. To make matters worse, when Japanese see this kind of foreigner, some say; he is no endurance. No wander we can`t delegate work to Americans. It is a particularly tragic kind of misunderstanding.


Why do Japanese mean by internationalization not globalization?

The word internationalization(国際化)has been around for 1990s – 2011 in Japan. If you know a little about Japan, no doubt you`ve heard the Japanese word for it: KOKUSAIKA. [CONTINUE]

It is a slogan meant to show that Japan is open to the outside world and can communicate actively and positively with it. In the aftermath of the bursting of Japan`s bubble economy, it has become a desperate survival strategy for companies with global ambitions.

Speaking English and fostering employees who can negotiate with foreigners in English is part of this strategy. Large companies learned some time ago to promote their international business activities by creating slick English language public relations materials and by bringing in foreigners or people with overseas business experience.

However, it seems that a lot of this talk of internationalization itself has become an empty catch-phrase. Everyone aspires to it, but few know how to put it fully into practice.

Westerners who enthusiastically join Japanese companies with the expectation that Japan is internationalizing become disillusioned and end up quitting. Sometimes they take extremely negative views of Japan and voice the criticism that internationalization is meaningless there. Why does this happen?

Responsibility lies both with Japan and with foreigners who interact with them. Japanese must undertand that internationalization is not simply a matter of hiring people who speak English, speaking and writing in English, or buying more foreign goods. The first step to internationalization is having the flexibility of mind to understand the business culture of one`s trading partners, then to have the coyrage and fairness to accept it and allow a cultural blending to take place.

It is very important for Japanese international companies to hire foreigners and let them interact with the home office. Furthermore, they must also be allowed to participate in decision making. If you reject your foreign partner or associate because he is incompatible with your culture, you will never achieve true internationalization. It is vital that you select the strengths of both sides, meld them together, and forge a new company culture based on this mixture.

Many people confuse internationalization with Westernization or globalization. If you want to internationalize, you need to have a staff who can interact equally with people from all over the world, and who can respect the local culture of the area they are in. Japanese should take this yo heart.

By the same token, if you analyze foreign criticism about Japan`s lack of internationalization, you will find many cases where it sterns from some difference between Japan and an other country. At the same time, it is unfair to heap all the blame on Japanese for not fully understanding the etiquette, manners and business values of that different country.

Ultimately, the concept of internationalization menas an environment where approaches from various sides are possible. In light of cultural differences on both sides, it is necessary to explore the cultural background that is often the basis of misunderstandings in business approaches.

Japan will be able to conduct productive and efficient business with foreigners once it establishes a steady process of information exchange on the cultural level, and introduces courageous reforms based upon what is learned.