It’s not easy to negotiate cross-culturally. Not only do we tend to misunderstand the behavior of the other party, we often don’t realize how deep behavior differences go. Americans have read that Japanese typically respond to direct questions with vague answers and silence. But that’s only part of the story. This paper tells the rest. The authors explain how Japanese behavior is significantly tied to context. They describe the important cultural mechanisms that affect this context and offer suggestions for Americans who want to handle these situations more effectively.
1. For example, see:
R.B. Peterson and J. Shimada, “Sources of Management Problems in Japanese-American Joint Ventures,” Academy of Management Review 4 (1978): 796–804.
2. For example, the United States Commerce Department estimates that Japanese investment in the United States has grown eleven times since 1980 and that U.S. investment in Japan has tripled in the same period; in 1989, Japanese investment in the United States totaled over $50 billion, while U.S. investment in Japan totaled nearly $17 billion. The automobile factories of Honda, Toyota, and Nissan in the United States or the new Corning plant in Japan are visible examples of this direct investment. Also, the number of Japanese and American firms that are forming joint ventures and strategic alliances is increasing at an exponential rate. From 1979 to 1985, such organizational collaborations increased 2,000 percent, and 79 percent of the joint ventures were between rivals in the same market. As an example, approximately 126 U.S.-Japanese joint ventures exist in the auto-supply parts industry alone. See:
M. Hergert and D. Morris, “Can Japanese-American Collaborate Agreements Succeed?” Business Forum 12 (1987): 20–22.
3. T. Doi, Amae no kozo [Anatomy of Dependence] (Tokyo, Japan: Kodanshita International, 1973);
C. Nakane, Tateshakai no kankei [Japanese Society] (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970);
H. Minami, Nihonjin no shinri [Psychology of the Japanese People] (Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo University Press, 1971);
E.S. Krauss, T.P. Rohlen, and P. G. Steinhoff, eds., Conflict in Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1984). This edited book contains some essays by Japanese scholars.
4. For example, see:
J. Alston, “Wa, Guanxi, and Inwha: Managerial Principles in Japan, China, and Korea,” Business Horizons 32 (1989): 26–31.
5. For example, see:
E.T. Hall, Beyond Culture (Garden City, New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday & Company, 1976).
6. T. Ishida, “Conflict and Its Accommodation: Omote-Ura and Uchi-Soto Relations,” in Conflict in Japan, ed. E.S. Krauss, T.P. Rohlen, and P.G. Steinhoff (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1984).
7. J.L. Graham and Y. Sano, Smart Bargaining: Doing Business with the Japanese (New York: Harper & Row, Ballinger Division, 1989).