Multinational joint business ventures are becoming familiar with the global marketplaces becoming more accessible for both small and large business. One business can benefit from another that has the increasingly diverse knowledge, increased access to advanced technology and insightful approaches to handling business problems. On the other hand along these benefits, there are possibilities and of their being cultural differences that might become stumbling blocks to the international business. It is therefore for the better of everyone that they take the necessary measures and be well equipped to handle such issues that might arise along the way.
It has long been said and believed that Japan has a higher collectivist score than America. This means that they range low in individualism at 46 while the USA ranges at 91. Because of Mr. Hiromitsu's loyalty and service to the Toka Foods Company, Mr. Sony is satisfied that he is the valid candidate for the position, ((Luger, 213)). However, because Mr. Carter comes from an individualistic culture, he does not consider loyalty or the amount of time someone has worked for company aspects to consider when considering a promotion. He goes by the performance of an individual and their ability to hold a certain position in the company. He, therefore, prefers the position to be taken by Mr. Katsuki whom he believes is dynamic and is straightforward among other qualities that make him the best candidate than anyone else, (Piepenburg, 73). What Mr. Carter does not know is that if his choice is given the position, he will not benefit from it. In Japan, once someone that age holds such a high ranking position then they will never be promoted again, they will face rejection from their peers because such an action shows individualism, something they never do. Mr. Sony by denying nominating Mr. Katsuki is only being impersonal and trying to save him from all that.
The underlying cultural issues in this case study are directly related to the different levels of context cultures between Japan and the USA. Japan is the highest ranking country in context cultures. In their business environments and personal interactions, they prefer using more non-verbal and unspoken communication than in the USA business environments, (Griffin, 213). The high context culture of Japan makes Mr. Sony uncomfortable with the confrontation that was going to happen between him and Mr. Carter. Japanese usually prefer to use indirect non-confrontational styles of communication, but because of the low context culture of Americans, Mr. Carter wanted to have a face to face meeting with the Japanese representative. This is one of the underlying cultural problems.
Japan has a larger power distance than America by 54 to 40 respectively. This indicates that power in Japan is distributing unequally. In the case study, the Americans feel undermined when they do not receive messages and response on time. The Japanese, because of their extremely hierarchical culture, is painstakingly slow in making decisions. Every decision made has to pass through and be confirmed by every hierarchical level and the final say obtained from the top management. In the case study, the Japanese were slow and deliberate in approaching the negotiations slowly which was a reason the Americans were impatient with the pace of the negotiations, (Tuleja, 183). However, the Japanese take their time because once a decision has been made, it would take so much time to change their minds and despite that, any changes made was to again go through a thorough discussion by the Japanese executives.
In such a globalized economy in today's world, cultural sensitivity is an essential aspect. Getting to understand and know about the cultural differences that exist between your company and partner is the one essential thing towards success in business. The Toka foods and Health Snacks both should have first established ways of understanding language nuances, the etiquette and cultural time management differences between the two cultures. This would have helped in the venture navigating many complex interactions and avoided the current problem. At the beginning of their business negotiations and discussions, both parties should have first familiarized themselves with the basic customs, gestures, and mannerisms of the other's culture (Neuliep, 278).
For example, if Mr. Carter could have fist had an extensive knowledge of the Japanese cultural background before writing the letter addressed to Mr. Sony, then his words and his proposals could all have been adapted to suit those of Mr. Sony better. This, in turn, could have led to Mr. Cater's suggestions getting considered by Mr. Sony and ultimately increasing the chances of solving the problems at hand. The two parties could have found someone from their side that fully understands and comprehends the other party's language and culture so that they could be well represented in every aspect of the joint venture, (Thomas et al. 284). This could have helped foster an effective business communication because the speaking tone could have been neutral and conscious efforts of other's input be considered if when given in a way that one party is not accustomed to.
The current problem is a major one and if not addressed might lead to the end of this productive business relationship shared between two great companies. This is a professional with skills of dealing and handling relationships between two or several individuals or companies that belong to different cultures. Within the process of healing the almost crushing business relationship between Toka Foods and Healthy Snacks, the mediator needs to start the process of common learning. This is where both parties learn to have a healthy confrontation, have the willingness to listen and keep open minds towards the other party's culture aside from discovering new and productive ways of communication and understanding, (Inoue, 145). Mr. Carter and Mr. Sony should go to the meeting with an open mind and put their dispositions aside. Despite their lack of understanding of each other's reasoning and logic, they should be willing to listen to each other and with the aid of the intercultural mediator be able to reach a common goal. This is saving the venture and achieving the aim of the business.
Health Snacks and Toka Foods should both make sure an environment which encourages everyone to make every effort towards achieving excellence and success gets established. Fully understanding and trying to emphasize with each other is the key to establishing good business relationships. The different cultural aspects such as the context culture levels, individualism and collectivism and power distance have to be taken into consideration when it comes to making major decisions. Every party ought to be patient and understanding and whenever things get too challenging; an intercultural mediator can always get sought. This is because the end of the day every person wants to reach an agreement and achieve the different goals they have set.
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