CROSS CULTURAL MANAGEMENT Under these conditions it is obvious that corporations very often operate in different countries and deal with people from other nations. The Company that makes business outside the home country encounters some difficulties. There are significant differences among countries according to their culture and this affects their relationships between trade partners or cooperating companies. This subject very often is described by Lisbeth Clausen.
She is a professor that associates with Department of Intercultural Communication and Management at Copenhagen Business School and she is also affiliated with Asia Research Center. In the International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 2007 Vol 7(3): 317-332 we can find an article titled: Corporate Comunication Challenges – A Negotiation Culture Perspective, written by Lisbeth Clausen. The article is based on her research project, which examines communication between Danish companies and their headquarters/alliances in Japan.
The main interest in this research is related to communications between people in organizations with a global perspective. The author for a year and a half was part of the international news flow research team at Keio University in Japan where she was observing political decision-making processes in the newsrooms at the public service station NHK and also the commercial station TV Asahi. She has interviewed forty journalists, foreign correspondents, editors and famous anchors and the five Japanese national news producers about their production of international news and also she has compared studies of Danish and Japanese news programs.
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Her project is supported by the Danish Research Council (LOK). She also has interviewed fifty global managers from Denmark and Japan, paying attention to their cooperation, their cultural challenges in communication and implementation of strategies in Japan. In her article Corporate Communication and Challenges-A Negotiated Culture Perspective is the essence of her long term studies and hard work. The author’s main thesis is that business culture cannot be defined only in terms of nationality.
By the examination of Danish-Japanese business relationships she tries to show that there are other factors like industry, organizational and professional knowledge that shape culture. However that does not mean that national characteristics and values are not important. The article is very well organized. It includes a little introduction to the problems. Lisbeth presents results of her research that she did while being in Japan. She applies concept of negotiated culture to empirical data at both organizational and contextual levels in intercultural encounters.
Communication is viewed as a complex, multi- issued, and dynamic process in which global managers exchange meaning (Clausen, 2007). The fact that she based her article on the theories of intercultural communication and negotiated culture and after that lead readers through information obtained from managers engaged in Danish-Japanese business to get to conclusions that support stated by her thesis, strengths this article, makes it clearer and more reliable.
Based on the analyses of strategic and operational communications that occur in the business relationship between Denmark headquarter and its alliance partner in Japan, Lisbeth indicates how the western view of communication processes differs from the Japanese and how many challenges are brought about by the globalization. As mentioned earlier the theoretical foundation for these studies is a theory of negotiated culture.
According to Brannen and Salk (t2000): national origin is a source of values and norms for managers, but is not a determinant of communication outcomes negotiated culture appear when members from different national and organizational cultures deal together during cooperation between corporation from two different countries emerge the specific attributes of a headquarters/partners relationship cultural differences may affect task related issues in unexpected ways The fact that the author indicates all the sources from which she has obtained information presented in the article makes this articlea more valuable source of knowledge about intercultural communication. Lisbeth has collected data for her studies in April 2004 in Denmark and in September-November 2004 in Japan. She refers to the company she was examining as the Shoe Company. She conducted fifty interviews in five companies as part of a larger project on management, communication and competence. The goal of interviewed made in both Denmark and Japan was to achieve a good understanding of the viewpoints of both the headquarters and the partner.
In Denmark Lisbeth has focused on the production of new prototypes and has met people in the factory. In Japan she has visited several shoe stores and has spent some time in the showroom. She has thoroughly interviewed managers and directors from so many departments. Besides that she has also interview via telephone the managing director of Asia (Danish) stationed in Hong Kong (Clausen, 2007). It seems like Lisbeth has put so much effort in obtaining all the information that let her be as objective as possible. The article is well organized. Every problem that is discussed belongs to different paragraph, with a header to make it easier to understand. The author describes different issues step by step without mixing them together.
Everything together is connected in the reasonable article and all the conclusions are drawn from all the information presented in there. It gives me an impression that Lisbeth has broad knowledge about the problem of communication according to the culture differentiation. Besides that the language that she uses even if she talks about some theories is rather always clear. Because all businesses involve communication therefore ability to communicate with people from other culture is crucial in global world of business. Communication becomes more difficult when partners come from different cultural background and speak different language (Adler, 2002).
There are no doubts that managers and expatriates have big challenges dealing with their partners across the borders. Culture in certain way shapes the communication. To explain better the relationship between culture and communication the author is so precise and describes first the notion of communication, considering more than just one perspective. I think that this is one of the proofs that Lisbeth tries to be very objective. Western approach is concerned on communication as a transmission of information from sender to receiver, what is understood as a possible to control process. From the other side she also presents eastern perspective that emphasizes a role of cooperation. Besides that she also focuses on explanation of culture.
She presents different theories of culture at the end she puts essence of all of them in a conclusion. She sees culture as a part of relationship rather than in predetermined structure. Lisbeth very good presents the base on which she draws her conclusions. To support her thesis about influence of cultural differentiation for business relationship she presents all the facts that she has recorded while interviewing managers in SHOE Company. That also includes the information about development of the cooperation between Denmark and Japan in the SHOE Company. Danish Company makes business with Japanese on the base of licensing. According to her interviews the author indicates as many areas that show differences in culture as possible.
The culture of the SHOE Company is influenced by the founders. Headquarter director always has his vision and his own way of doing things. The Company even posses a book with 25 culture Maxims. Danish managers highlight some of them, still paying attention for role of entrepreneur. Japanese from the other side respect Danish rules and business philosophy, but they cannot incorporate everything into a Japanese business setting. Even if Danish managers made so many trips to Japan to get know better Japanese culture and customs the author emphasizes the fact that there are still big differences that force Japanese to modify Danish business philosophy.
To convince readers about differences in Danish and Japanese culture Lisbeth gives so many examples from Companies life. SHOE Company has an office in Honk Kong. The managerial director (Danish) is the only person from this office that deal with Japanese. He lives in Honk Kong. He is kind of mediator between Danish managers and Japanese. He has much better abilities to communicate with Japanese than his Danish coworkers. On the base of this example, Lisbeth proofs that there are different cultures in Denmark and in Japan. The fact that managerial director in Honk Kong can better communicate with Japanese is a result of cultural learning and adaptation of the Asian managerial director.
The author very good presents a base for her conclusions. She discusses variety of factors that affect her final opinion. According to organization of communication she presents Danish and Japanese perspectives. Japanese complain that they have to move toward a more western style of management in Japan. Danish asses this a little bit different. They say that Japanese are too much conservative and spend too much time making sure that everything is perfect before they launch the product. Moreover dominating there vertical hierarchy does not support empower employees. The lack of freedom, independence and personal responsibilities makes business slower and less developed that it could be.
Another important issue discovered by Lisbeth during her studies was lack of agreement on distribution channel. There is intermediary system of distribution in Japan, which in Danish’s opinion makes selling prices to go up. Unfortunately the power of wholesalers is overwhelming in the Japanese market, and many department stores are depended on them. Japanese tradition of wholesalers is not possible to change. I think that this example strengths Lisbeth’s article because proofs the assumption that different markets have different cultural heritage, what definitely affect the way of doing business. To make her arguments even stronger Lisbet’h took closer look at Product, Brand and Marketing strategy in the SHOE Company.
The main strategy of the Corporation is that local subsidiaries and factories around the world make as many decisions by them self as possible. However there are still many disputes. Denmark wants to promote its shoes as Danish as comfortable, which is accepted by Japan, but Japan, does not want promote slow and comfortable life that in Japanese opinion is an attribute of Danish people. This totally does not fit to the Japanese life style in a big metropolis. There are so many areas of disputes that results from different tradition, culture and lifestyle. Japan accepts and implements only 50% of Danish ideas for marketing. Similar situation appears if it comes about brand strategy.
Living in the global world Danish tries to apply one global strategy to its products, however Japanese do not agree. Japan has its own history and position of its market. Japan is not so open for changes. While in Denmark change of manager usually results in the change of strategy, in Japan new managers try to learn company strategy overrules. (Clausen, 2007) Lisbeth also indicates the diversity between Japanese and Danish cultures that are very visible during the joint meetings. That is connected with different style of negotiation presented by each country. For Danish the most important are results that are based on the number of business decisions made during the meeting.
They are very active, talk a lot sometimes even interrupting his coworkers. They try to discuss as many new ideas as possible. Participation is not very formal. Japanese act totally different and value other things. For them every business meeting it has a form of formal ceremony. It is extremely important for them to attend the meeting. Japanese do not talk too much, the listen. They comment only if they are asked to do it. For Danish people this is not so easy, because to be successful making business with Japanese they have to follow their ritual and be very patient. The author also indicates diversity of work culture. Japanese are always very well prepared and pay lots of attention for small details.
They focus on the relationship building. Very often they meet after the business meeting to go out together for dinner. Danish are not like that. For them business is business and free time is separated from it. They do not enjoy spending their private free time for meeting people from work. Lisbeth Clausen has done a very good job collecting all this data and information from her interviewed. For me her article seems like a very good and reliable source of knowledge about the intercultural communication on the base of Danish-Japanese cooperation. Her deep research provides so many examples of diversity of cultures between these two countries.
Numerous analyses of certain facts and behaviors let readers better understand stated problem. Examination of the situation that she personally experienced is a good way of delivering proof for her thesis. I think that for me as a student of businessadministration this article is very valuable. It makes me realize that culture of each country is not the same, sometimes not even similar. Differences in culture affect the way of communication. In the century of development of globalization there are many challenges in making business across the countries. Maybe one day I will work for a Company that performs global and I will have to deal with managers from different culture.
Lisbeth indicates that it is important to know culture and tradition of other countries while making business with them. She introduce to reader Danish and Japanese style of negotiation. If one day I will have to deal with someone from these two countries I will already have some knowledge about their culture. I totally agree with Lisbeth thesis that culture shape communication. References: Adler, N. J. (2002) The International Dimension of Organizational Behavior, 4th edn. Canada: North-Western Brannen, Y. and Salk, J. E. (2000) “Partnering across Borders: Negotiating Organizational Culture in German-Japanese Joint Venture”, Human Relations 53(4):451-87.
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