Negotiation and Culture: Case Study
Culture and Negotiations Why do Japanese negotiators behave in the manner they do? How does culture affect negotiating behavior and outcomes? MASTER THESIS Author’s name: Patrycja J. Krause Student’s number: 258891 Academic advisor: Soren O. Hilligsoe Faculty of English Aarhus School of Business May 2006 I would like to thank my Mom, Barbara, for her understanding, encouragement and eternal support, as well as my advisor, Soren O. Hilligsoe, for his academic help, advice and faith in me keeping my deadline! Patrycja J.
Krause Aarhus, May 2006 In loving memory of my Dad, Wladyslaw, for showing me the world – this one is for you. 2 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 5. 4 5. 5 6. 7. 8. INTRODUCTION METHOD WHY JAPAN? DEFINITION OF CULTURE AND VALUES HOFSTEDE’S VALUE DIMENSIONS POWER DISTANCE UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE COLLECTIVISM VERSUS INDIVIDUALISM FEMININITY VERSUS MASCULINITY LONG-TERM VERSUS SHORT-TERM ORIENTATION CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON HOFSTEDE EDWARD HALL CULTURAL DIMENSIONS 4 6 7 9 11 12 13 13 14 15 15 16 19 20 21 23 25 26 28 30 40 43 47 59 61 64 65 . 1 CONFUCIANISM 8. 2 IE 8. 3 THE WA-CONCEPT 8. 4 ISOLATION 8. 5 UNIQUENESS 8. 6 WESTERN INFLUENCE 9. 9. 1 10. 11. 12. 13. JAPANESE NEGOTIATOR THE NANIWABUSHI STRATEGY BRETT & USUNIER CASE STUDIES CONCLUSION SUMMARY REFERENCES APPENDIX 3 1. Introduction This paper wants to provide a culture-based explanation, examination and analysis as to why Japanese negotiators behave in the manner they do in negotiation, as well as how culture affects negotiations and their outcome.
The paper is, due to the focus on cultural differences, solely dealing with international negotiations. This paper is focusing on the cultural aspect of the negotiation, which is only one piece of a larger puzzle, but it is a crucial and decisive piece. It is now widely accepted that culture indeed has an affect on negotiation and its outcome, which reflects a given culture and the underlying values and beliefs that are central and fundamental in a culture.
The culture can be defined as being both behavior, a meaning system and a communication style, and there is a link between the dominant world view present in a given culture (Japan), and the negotiating style that appears to be characteristic of that culture. This paper is not to depict a stereotypical image of a Japanese negotiator, but merely to show that culture indeed does influence the behavior, negotiations and their outcome. It should also be kept in mind that (a) the negotiation is a universal process, and (b) there are a number of contextual factors that too have an impact on the cultures’ impact on the negotiation – e. . the nature of the other party (member of an in-group or an out-group), and the individual difference, although a member of a collectivistic culture tends to suppress his personality and individuality in order to maintain group harmony. This paper is to focus on a Japanese negotiator, who is dominated by his cultural values, and his interaction (in a negotiation) with a member of an out-group (foreigners and people that do not have a long term relationship with the Japanese negotiator), and a member of the in-group (fellow Japanese with established long-term relationships).
Several studies and surveys (e. g. Brett and Usunier) have shown that culture does affect the negotiation process and the final agreement or outcome of the negotiations. Nevertheless, while there have been a number of studies that have explored the behavior of negotiators from different cultures, only very few have dealt with the underlying reasons – why people from a given culture behave the way they do.
Additionally, most theorists and scholars have relied on the value dimensions index, depicting the differences between cultures, developed by Hofstede between 1968 and 1973. Hofstede’s research has undoubtedly helped people understand other cultures, but there is also a need to understand the underlying reasons why people from a given culture behave the way they do – the so-called mental frames that are shaping the behavior of Japanese negotiators. 4
Otherwise, negotiators tend to create their own interpretation of the behavior of the other party, which without the necessarily cultural knowledge may lead to prejudices and ultimately lack of trust (Gudykunst & Kim, 2003: 125-160). For instance, trust in individualistic societies is based on the fact that a promise that will be implemented on a specific time or day, whereas trust in collectivistic societies is based on emotions and relationships as well as on sacrifice.
The other party may thus think the Japanese negotiator do not want to reach an agreement within a week because they are difficult and want to sabotage the negotiation or untrustworthy, rather than the Japanese are relationship oriented rather than task oriented. They thus want to establish a relationship before they reach an agreement and need more time in order to reach an agreement because it is based on group consensus. The paper starts by giving a definition and an analysis of culture and values in general in order to delimit and define the cultural framework that is the fundament of this paper.
The culture and values of Japan are then to be described and discussed in order to show which cultural factors and dimensions in Japan determine and influence the Japanese negotiator, as well as serving as a an introductory guide to Japanese culture and society – hopefully, the guide will present both useful and interesting knowledge to all those interested in cross-cultural negotiations and intercultural communication. Two frameworks are presented and used in order to gain deeper behavior knowledge of culture: Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension and Hall’s Silent Language and Beyond Culture.
Next, the paper discusses and analyzes Japanese negotiating styles and techniques 1 , and how they are influenced by the Japanese culture and cultural values. For this purpose, different aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication are to be discussed as well, and the paper is to analyze the meaning of these aspects in the context of negotiations. Finally, the paper is to take a look at two real life cases involving Japanese negotiators in order to illustrate behavior patterns and negotiation styles and techniques of Japanese negotiators.
The author of this paper would argue that in an increasingly interdependent world, the ability to negotiate successfully is an important skill, and understanding the mindset and the behavior of the Japanese negotiator is essential and fundamental for successful negotiations. 1 Mainly focusing on the male negotiator, being the dominant player during negotiations in Japan. 5 Being aware of the reasons why the Japanese negotiator behaves and communicates they way he does, one may be less surprised or shocked by Japanese behavior, and may be better at focusing on, and handling, the negotiation itself.
Knowledge of culture and cultural values of the other party works as an uncertainty avoidance in negotiations, and helps building trust in stead of tarnishing it with prejudices, which ultimately leads to a dead lock or even break downs. 2. Method The research concerning this paper was mainly carried out in the form of a desktop study method – all the data were carefully collected mainly from secondary sources, such as, studies, surveys, as well as statistics and articles.
The paper is culture-based, and the chosen data depict this approach – all the scholars referred quoted and referred to are specializing in culture, intercultural communication, as well negotiating. In order to give a general overview of the Japanese culture as well as to determine what type of values are predominant in Japan, the paper refers to and applies Hofstede’s five value dimensions index – masculinity/femininity, collectivism/individualism, uncertainty avoidance, long-term versus short-term orientation and power distance.
Additionally, the paper is also to refer to Hall’s theory on the difference between high and low context and cultures, and the concept of Chronemics, in order to identify the Japanese culture and how these differences and concepts influence a negotiation. Also, several historical concepts (e. g. the ie-concept, geographical isolation, Western influence, etc. and Confucianism, which is one of the cultural dimensions that have influenced the Japanese worldview, are to be described and discussed in order to explain why the Japanese negotiator behaves in the manner he does, and how the historical events and Confucianism affect the culture and the behavior in Japan. Hofstede’s work has been criticized over the years for being incomplete, static and too narrow. The paper is thus to discuss the critical perspectives on Hofstede in order to show that the author has been aware of the possible disadvantages, when using Hofstede’s five value dimensions index. Additionally, Brett and Usunier are also discussed in the paper when dealing with the connection and interaction between culture and negotiation – how does culture affect negotiations. Both Brett and Usunier argue that in order to reach an agreement, the negotiators need to be aware of each other’s culture and cultural values, as well as understand the reasons for the way the other part behaves during negotiations. Finally, two real life case studies have been analyzed in order to depict the culture-based theory described and discussed in this paper.
The reason for using case studies was to give a more holistic portrayal of a Japanese negotiator, while analyzing the contents by seeking patterns and themes in the data while referring them to the culture-based theory (e. g. culture and values and how they influence ones behavior and negotiating style) in this paper. Additionally, using case study is the best way to obtain data for analysis when one is not able to make actual field studies by observing Japanese negotiators in action. Both case studies depict the Japanese negotiators interacting and negotiating with members of an out-group, the Americans.
This is due to the fact that the author of this paper would argue that when observing two different cultures one observes reactions that may not be present when both parties had the same cultural background, which would ultimately result in a smoother negotiation. Additionally, this paper deals with international negotiations and the importance of knowing and understanding the other party’s culture and cultural values. The case studies are thus used to highlight the focus of the paper – why Japanese negotiators behave in the manner they do in a negotiation, as well as how culture affects negotiations and their outcome. . Why Japan? The author of this paper has chosen to focus on Japan and the cultural values and behavior of a Japanese negotiator due to the following factor: Japan’s consumer market. In order to know how attractive Japan is as a business associate, and thus how important it is to know the Japanese culture and negation behavior in order to win the market and succeed in the country, a brief description of the Japanese consumer market will now be given – its size, its consumers and its products.
Japan is a closely populated and highly urbanized country with one of the most powerful economies in the world, currently amongst the top three economies in the world, although still rebounding from the collapse of the country’s economy back in 1991. 7 According to the Statistical Handbook of Japan, consumption expenditures increased by approximately 0. 5 percent in real terms due to such factors as the indication of an economic recovery and improvement in consumer sentiment (Statistical Handbook of Japan, 2005 2 : 158).
Statistical Handbook of Japan states: As of May 2005, the excellent performance of the corporate sector is continuing, and overall business is recovering gradually. Recovery of employment is lagging slightly. However, the unemployment rate, which was 5. 4 percent in 2002, recovered to 4. 4 percent in May 2005. As seen in this state of affairs, there is some improvement, although harshness still remains. The growth of consumer spending, which slowed between the end of 2004 and early 2005, is showing signs of a resurgence (Statistical Handbook of Japan, 2005: 33 3 ).
Due to its geographical nature, Japan cannot supply all its needs for raw material for energy and fuel, metal products, and foods from indigenous resources, and is thus dependent on overseas supplies. In 1996 Japan had an overall deficit in food of about 30 % – in 2003 it was approximately 40 %. According to Statistical Handbook of Japan, the present food self-sufficiency rate of Japan is the lowest among major industrialized countries, so Japan has thus become the world’s largest food importing nation (Statistical Handbook of Japan, 2005: 69 4 ).
This makes Japan an attractive market with its 127 million consumers, where women are a majority and retired people outnumber the youngest age strata, and are thus the most significant consumer group (Reischauer, 1995: 25). Additionally, the Japanese are well educated and households have a fairly disposable income, in which the majority of it is spent on food. According to the 2004 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, monthly consumption expenditure averaged ? 304,203per household with two or more family members excluding single-member households (Statistical Handbook of Japan, 2005: 158 5 ). Appendix 1 – Household 3 Appendix 2 – Economy 4 Appendix 3 – Agriculture 5 Appendix 1 – Household 8 Japan is the world’s largest net importer of agriculture and food products (in 2003 alone, the country has imported over 60 % of its food supplies), amounting to US$ 40 to 50 billion annually. Thus, the Japanese food market is powerful but demanding (Agri-Food Country Profile: Japan, 2003: 1 6 ). Needless to say, it is a relatively difficult task to target a foreign, and rather remote, market as it may require extra resources and special cultural knowledge.
Therefore, it is valuable to study the values and the culture of Japan before entering the country’s market in order to promote and sell a product. 4. Definition of Culture and Values This chapter is to describe and define culture and values in general in order to delimit and define the cultural framework that is the fundament of this paper. At first glace, the human race behaves more or less alike – we smile, laugh and cry. We talk, gesticulate, and perform actions. Nevertheless, our behavior is influenced by our cultures – through the norms and rules existing in our society.
Our cultures also affect our communication through the individual characteristics we learn when we are socialized into our culture. In short, our culture provides us with a system of knowledge that generally allows us to know how to communicate with other members of our culture and how to interpret their behavior. Culture can thus be defined as an underlying framework that guides an individual’s perceptions of observed events and personal interaction, and thus directly influences what people will do and what they can do. In short, knowing and using culture and its many dimensions is a must know negotiating with foreigners.
Culture includes all learned behavior and values that are transmitted through shared experience to an individual in a society. According to Sir Edward Taylor, a classic definition of culture is as follows: “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by (individuals as members) of society. ” (Taylor, 1871: 1). Culture is thus everything that people have (objects), think (ideas, values, attitudes, beliefs), and do (behavior) as members of a particular society.
Culture is made up of material objects, ideas, values and attitudes, and behavior patterns (Gudykunst & Kim, 2003: 14-19, Yokochi & Hall, 2001: 193). 6 Appendix 4 9 Additionally, according to Hall, a culture must have the following three characteristics: 1. It is learned; people over time transmit the culture of their group from one generation to another 2. It is interrelated; one part of a particular culture is deeply interconnected with another part – e. g. religion with marriage, or education and work with social status 3.
It is shared; the basic concepts of a particular culture are accepted by most members of the group. In other words, culture develops through recurrent social relationships that form a pattern that is eventually adapted by members of the entire group, and transmitted to new members through the process of learning and interacting with ones environment and other members of ones culture (Hall, 1977: 16). The most fundamental aspect of our culture consists of values. Values are acquired in the family, during the first years of our lives, further developed and confirmed in school, and einforced in work organizations and in life within a national cultural environment. Values determine what we consider to be good and evil, beautiful and ugly, natural and unnatural, rational and irrational, normal and abnormal (Ghauri & Usunier, 2003: 97-100, 137-138). Values too are a major influence and determination factor when it comes to behavior and communication during a negotiation. Values are defined by the particular culture, hence the importance of understanding the value concept and culture when negotiating with foreigners. One of the early U. S. esearches of values, Milton Rokeach, defines a value 7 as: “An enduring belief that one mode of conduct or end-state of existence is preferable to an opposing mode of conduct or end-state of existence”. According to Rokeach values are thus both guiding principles in life, and preferences for one mode of behavior over another. Values are depicted in the general norms of a culture (what is right and wrong), and they are depicted in what we want and what we consider important for ourselves. Values are also among the very first things children learn – implicitly – by observing the community, kyodotai in Japanese (e. . parents and people around them). 7 An attitude, on the other hand, refers to an organization of several beliefs around a specific object or situation. 10 According to the American development psychologist, Daniel Yankelovich, most important traditional values will remain firm and constant over time, and are thus stable and enduring through generations (de Mooij, 2004: 22-26). It is thus essential to remember that the intercultural communication and negotiation are never far from cultural considerations (Roth, 1982: 6).
This assumption was mistakenly conceived from the converging technology and the spread of the English language that was taking place globally (de Mooij, 2004: 1-18). One has to remember though that globalization is not an entirely new phenomenon. In fact, some would argue that it even dates back at least to the Marco Polo’s voyages in the 1300s, and the fundamental values of the many different cultures have not changed significantly since then. People still live in the local. We define ourselves by our differences.
It’s called identity – self, family and nation” (de Mooij, 2004: 16). Human behavior is learned and growing up in a culture, a person is taught values, perceptions, wants and how to behave from the family and other institutions (Lasserre & Schutte, 1995: 49-59). For instance, in today’s Japan, group harmony is still dominating the nation’s behavior, seniority by age is still respected, and promotion in most public and private organizations is based on the length of service, which is usually connected to the age of the individual.
Reciprocity is emphasized in social relations in order to maintain a long-lasting relationship. Values and traditions do not easily change in a society. 5. Hofstede’s value dimensions This chapter is to describe and discuss the Dutch professor, Geert Hofstede’s, value dimension index, which is based on the first international survey taking place in IBM in more than 50 different countries from 1968 to 1973 (Hofstede, 2001: xv), mainly focusing on Japan in order to determine what type of culture is present in Japan.
According to Hofstede, the way people perceive and interpret their world varies along five dimensions, and are as follows: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, collectivism/individualism, and masculinity/femininity. Finally, Hofstede added a fifth dimension called long-term orientation in life versus short-term orientation. Each of the countries in Hofstede’s study has been ranked according to their scores in each dimension. 11 According to Hofstede a dimension is: “…an aspect of a culture that can be measured relative to other cultures. Additionally, Hofstede defines culture as: “The collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede, 2001: 9). 5. 1 Power distance Power distance refers to the inequality among people, which the population of a country considers acceptable. There is inequality in all societies, and thus there will always be some people who have more power than other. In some cultures power is concentrated among a few people at the top, who make all the decisions, whereas people at the other end simply carry out these decisions.
Such cultures are associated with high power distance levels. In other cultures, on the other hand, power is widely spread and relations among people are more equal. These are low power distance cultures. (Hofstede, 1991: 23) According to Hofstede’s value dimensions Japan scores 55 points – placing it in the middle of the index (Hofstede, 1991: 26). In countries which have a high power distance employees dislike to disagree with their superiors. Superiors are seen as paternalistic, and subordinates expect to be told what to do.
There is also a large emotional distance between subordinates and their superiors (Hofstede, 1991: 28). When it comes to family and school, parents will teach children to be obedient and the children will treat their parents with respect, just as students will treat their teachers with respect. In high power distance societies inequalities among people are in general expected and desired (Hofstede, 1991: 37). In Japan this inequality is especially expressed in the oya-ko concept (literally meaning parentchild), which originally refers to a leader or a work group and its members.
As work and home began to separate during the beginning of modern period of Japan oya and ko began to have a strictly kinship meaning – with no economic aspect – such as it had until the Tokugawa period where the ie (extended household) was more than just a family or a kinship unit – it was an economic organization in which each of its members (not always related to each other by blood or marriage) contributed towards it (Harumi, 1971: 38-39). 12 5. 2 Uncertainty avoidance Uncertainty avoidance describes the need or lack of need a society has towards written or unwritten rules and how it deals with structured or unstructured situations.
At the organizational level, uncertainty avoidance is related to factors such as rituals, rules, and employment stability. People in less structured cultures face the future without experiencing unnecessarily stress. The uncertainty associated with future events does not result in risk avoidance behavior. On the other hand, in cultures where people experience stress in dealing with future events, high uncertainty avoidance cultures, various steps are taken to cope with the impact of uncertainty: e. g. long-time planning in order to minimize the anxiety associated with future events.
Japan scores 92 points and is seen as a country with high uncertainty avoidance, where there are many regulations and a strong etiquette in order to avoid uncertainty (Hofstede, 1991: 113). 5. 3 Collectivism versus individualism According to several researchers within the field of culture, individualism versus collectivism is one of the basic pattern variants that determine human action. It is a pattern that is visible in every day life, as well as being present in the interaction between people. Individualism indicates the degree to which people of a particular culture learn to act as individuals rather than as members of a group.
It is essential to remember that all people and cultures posses both individual and collective traits, but at the same time one of these traits is always more dominant or more visible than the other (Samovar & Porter, 2004: 59). A typical collectivistic culture distinguishes between in-groups (relatives, clans, and organizations), and out-groups (the rest of ones network). Ones’ in-groups can be defined as ones’ extended family – like the one found in the Japanese society throughout the history; also known as ie.
People from individualistic cultures are self-centered, and feel relatively little need for dependency on others. They seek the fulfillment of their own goals over the goals over the groups. Additionally, people from individualistic cultures are competitive, and show little loyalty to the organizations for which they work. 13 People from collectivistic cultures, on the other hand, have a group mentality (with e. g. joint decision making), where they suppress and subordinate their goals for the sake of the group. They are interdependent on each other and seek mutual accommodation in order to maintain group harmony.
People in a collectivistic culture expect that their in-groups will take care of them and in return they owe the in-groups a great deal of loyalty and submission (Samovar & Porter, 2004: 61). Children who grow up in collectivistic societies are expected to show lifelong loyalty to the group (Hofstede, 1991: 50-51). In short, individualism versus collectivism, deals with the degree to which one thinks in terms of I versus we – either ties between individuals are loose or people are part of cohesive ingroup throughout their lives (Samovar & Porter, 2004: 61).
Contrary to the stereotype, Japan actually ranks in the middle of this dimension, with 46 points – but is still defined as being a collectivistic culture (Hofstede, 1991: 67). An interesting theory stated by Kumon Shumpei, a Japanese anthropologist, characterizes Japanese as contextualists rather than collectivists, as is the case in both Hofstede and Hall’s studies. A contextualist retains a personal identity, which the collectivist probably loses, but this personal identity is virtually inseparable from the contextual identity.
Thus, the individual changes, depending on the context he is in or the people he is with. One of the arguments Kumon makes to support the theory is that most Japanese belong to in-groups in order to reach a self-realization. But one could argue that even in these “self-realization in-groups” the members strive to maintain harmony and act for the benefit of the group, making them predominantly collectivistic (Hendry, 1998: 22-39). 5. 4 Femininity versus masculinity One of the main differentiations between masculine and feminine cultures is how gender roles are distributed in cultures.
Thus masculine cultures create clearly distinct gender roles; men are supposed to be self-confident, tough and concerned with the material aspect of life, whereas women are expected to be modest, tender and dealing with the quality of life. Thus according to Hofstede Japan is a highly masculine culture (Gudykunst & Kim, 2003: 77), whereas in masculine countries both people are taught to be ambitious and competitive. It should be mentioned though that females’ ambitions are sometimes directed towards the achievements of their brothers and later in life their husbands and sons.
According to Hofstede’s index, Japan is one of the more masculine countries, scoring 95 – ranking as number one (Hofstede, 1991: 96). 14 5. 5 Long-term versus short-term orientation Michael Harris Bond originally found the fifth dimension in the answers of student samples from 23 countries in 1985 in Hong Kong, and later it was incorporated by Hofstede in his value dimensions index. The reason why this dimension was not found in the original IBM data was due to the fact that the IBM questionnaires were composed from the minds and values of Westerners – whereas the fifth dimension was composed from the minds and values of Easterners.
The fifth dimension, nevertheless, is present across all 23 cultures taking part in the survey (Hofstede, 2001: 71-73). Long-term orientation, also known as Confucian Dynamism, is composed of the following values: being determinate or firm, prudent, arranging relationships by status as well valuing interpersonal relationships, as well as having a sense of shame, saving ones face, having a great deal of respect for tradition and reciprocation of greetings, favors and gifts.
Japan ranks as number 4 on the Long-term Orientation Index Values, with 80 points (Hofstede, 2001: 351356). 6. Critical perspectives on Hofstede There has been a great deal of critique of Hofstede’s value dimensions when dealing with culture analyses, which this paper will shortly discuss – simply to show that the author of this paper is indeed aware of the advantages as well as disadvantages when using Hofstede’s value dimensions in order to analyze a specific culture.
One of the most recent Danish critical analyses was performed by Susan Baca at the Aalborg University where it is being argued that Hofstede’s IBM-based rapport which is supposed to depict characteristic traits visible in cultures cannot be used simply due to the fact that IBMemployees from a specific culture cannot be representative for the culture in question as a whole (Baca, 1999: 11). One can argue that since Hofstede published his IBM-based rapport several other culture-analytics (e. . Triandis, Brislin and Bond) have made further analyses, which do not exactly contradict Hofstede’s value dimensions. These analyses both support Hofstede’s dimensions, as well as having reached the same conclusions. One can also add that since the amount of IBM-employees amounted to hundreds of thousands it is only logical to conclude that one did find enough traits, which can be viewed as characteristic for the cultures in question. 15
Another aspect of Hofstede’s survey-based value dimensions, which is being criticized is the fact that his model is static, and can ultimately not be used because surely the cultures in question studied by Hofstede must have changed over the time since he performed the survey from 1968 to 1973. This is one of the reasons why the paper is looking at the cultural and historical influence on Japanese behavior over time – in order to see if Hofstede’s value dimensions are still valid in the Japanese culture that this paper is dealing with.
Susan Baca is also criticizing Hofstede for actually separating a given culture into several, isolated dimensions, strongly supported by Turner and Trompenaars. For instance, Hofstede is depicting the American culture as highly individualistic, but does not describe the interaction people have with each other among the different in-groups – and if one can categorize this interaction as being highly individualistic as well or not (Baca, 1999: 15). To this, the author of this paper can only say, using Hofstede’s own words that this paper’s main task is to study cultures, and not individuals. (Hofstede, 2001: 15).
Additionally, in order to back up Hofstede’s theory, this paper is also to refer to Hall’s theory on Chronemics as well as a more general cultural analysis of the Japanese culture. 7. Edward Hall Another cultural framework used in this paper in order to gain deeper behavior knowledge of the Japanese culture, is Hall’s concept of Chronemics as well as his theory on low-context and high-context cultures. According to the American sociologist, Edward Hall, the world is divided into monochronic and polychronic culture, also known as the concept of Chronemics. It is a nonverbal behavior that speaks to how people use time to communicate.
Lateness, for example, can communicate messages of power (waiting in the doctor’s office), attraction (arriving early for the first date), or identity (being “fashionably late”). Chronemics, like all other nonverbal behavior is culturally based. Different cultures have different rules governing the use and meaning of time. Hall’s distinction between monochronic and polychronic cultures highlight the different ends of the cultural spectrums of how culture’s view time. A culture’s conception of time can thus be examined from Hall’s monochronic and polychronic classifications. 16
Monochronic cultures see time as a measurable, quantifiable entity, which is linear. Thus, being punctual, scheduling, planning tasks to match time frames are valued behaviors. In the monochronic culture time becomes a concrete and segmented reality where only one thing can be done at a time without interruptions. Additionally, in negotiations, monochronic people’s main focus is on goals, tasks and results, rather than relationships. Polychronic cultures, on the other hand, tend to view time as nonlinear – almost as a general guideline, which has no substance or structure. There is thus a circular or cyclical quality to time.
Punctuality and scheduling is done but rarely found in monochronic cultures. Additionally, people from polychronic cultures are able to do many things at one time, and do not mind interruptions. Because time is not linear or segmented, matching specific activities with specific time frames is not done. Times and activities are fluid. Finally, in negotiations, polychronic people’s main focus is on relationships and people. Japan belongs to the polychronic cultures. In a negotiation context, the Japanese want to get to know their business counterparts, and they feel that the best way to do so is by engaging in long conversations with them.
This reflects the fact that the Japanese culture is long-term relationship oriented. Negotiators from polychronic cultures are thus relationship-focused. Monochronic and polychronic time orientations tend to produce two other significant cultural phenomena: the difference between high and low context cultures, which refers to the fact that when people communicate, they take for granted how much the listener knows about the subject under discussion. Negotiators from monochronic cultures are thus deal-focused. Although Edward T.
Hall classified Japan as a polychronic culture, Gesteland argues that the Japanese business people expect strict punctuality in meetings and close adherence to schedule. Punctuality in Japan might be ruled by the high level of uncertainty avoidance and the maintenance of group harmony, which is essential for the Japanese culture. Hall also discusses and distinguishes between high-context and low-context cultures. He views meaning and context as being interconnected. The difference between high and low context cultures depends on how much meaning is found in the context versus in the code. 17
One can think of “code” as the message, and of “context” as setting or circumstance, including the people, in which the message appeared. In low-context communication, the listener knows very little and must be informed about every detail. In high-context communication, on the other hand, the listener is already ‘contexted’, and does not need to be given much background information. According to Hall, low-context cultures, such as the American culture, tend to place more meaning in the language code and very little meaning in the context. Communication tends thus to be specific, explicit, and analytical.
In analyzing messages, low-context cultures tend to focus on “what was said” and give literal meaning to each word. Low-context cultures tend to use a direct verbal-expression style in which the situation context is not emphasized, important information is usually carried in explicit verbal messages, people tend to directly express their opinions and intend to persuade others to accept their viewpoints, and self-expression, verbal fluency, and eloquent speech are valued. In high-context cultures, on the other hand, such as the Japanese culture, meaning is embedded more in the context rather than the code.
In this case, “what was said” cannot be understood by the words alone – one has to look at who said it, when they said it, where they said it, how they said it, the circumstances in which they said it, and to whom they said it. Each variable will thus help define the meaning of “what was said. ” Hall states: People raised in high-context systems expect more from others than do the participants in lowcontext systems. When talking about something that they have on their minds, a high-context individual will expect his interlocutor to know what’s bothering him, so that he doesn’t have to be specific.
The result is that he will talk around and around the point, in effect putting all the pieces in place except the crucial one (Hall: 1977, p. 98). This is also the case with the behavior of a Japanese negotiator – he expects the other party to know exactly what he wants to obtain from the negotiation, and what type of a deal he is looking for. 18 In short, the difference between high and low context cultures depends on how much meaning is found in the context versus in the code, or, in high-context exchanges, much of the “burden of meaning” appears to fall on the listener.
In low context cultures, the burden appears to fall on the speaker to accurately and thoroughly convey the meaning in her spoken or written message. Conclusively, according to Hall, Japan and the Japanese negotiator belongs to the polychronic culture type. Thus, in a negotiation context, the Japanese want to get to know their business counterparts by engaging in long conversations with them. This again reflects the fact that the Japanese culture is long-term relationship oriented. Additionally, Japan is a high-context culture, where meaning is embedded more in the context rather than the code.
Japanese negotiators expect thus more from the other party and when something is bothering them, they tend to express this indirectly (for instance by using silence) (Cohen, 1997: 159-160, Rowland, 1993: 68-69). Finally, although Edward T. Hall classified Japan as a polychronic culture, Gesteland argues that the Japanese business people expect strict punctuality in meetings and close adherence to schedule. Punctuality in Japan might be ruled by the high level of uncertainty avoidance and the maintenance of group harmony, which is essential for the Japanese culture (Hall, 1973, 1977, Gudykunst & Kim, 2003: 69, 179-180). 8.
Cultural Dimensions This chapter is to discuss and analyze which values and cultural dimensions that are present and dominant in Japan in order to understand the behavior of a Japanese negotiator: Confucianism Ie The WA-concept Isolation – geographical & political Uniqueness Western influence 19 8. 1 Confucianism The cultural perspective has for some time provided the dominant paradigm in comparative studies management, organization and cross-cultural negotiations. Even before Hofstede’s survey on cultural values, international studies of organization generally regarded culture as the key explanatory factor for cross-cultural differences.
One of the most important influences on Japanese everyday life, culture and behavior was, and still is, Confucianism, which entered Japan via Korea in the 5th Century. Japanese culture and behavior reflect the values of collectivism and harmony, and are highly inspired and influenced by Confucianism. Confucius (Kongzi, 551-479 BC) writing around the time of Socrates but a while before Jesus Christ, based his ideas on absolute respect for tradition, on a strict hierarchy of primary relationships between family-members, and then again between the people and their rulers.
His philosophy was intended to guide people’s everyday life, to regulate social behavior, and it established a mode of thought and habit that has persisted and that blended well with other belief systems that were and still are present in Japan, such as Buddhism and Shinto. The central concepts of the Confucian ethic were summarized in the Three Cardinal Relationships: ruler guides subject, father guides son, and husband guides wife), five constant virtues (benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and fidelity, and the doctrine of the mean (harmony). In this teaching, emphasis is on the obligation of the inferior to the superior.
The assumption is that society needs a hierarchical order in which every individual has his or her own place, and the peace and harmony prevail if everyone follows the proper manner of conduct. These concepts are the fundament of the Japanese society to this very day. Also, the Confucian teachings emphasized uprightness, righteousness, loyalty, sincerity, reciprocity, and benevolence as personal virtues. The principle of filial piety was especially useful during the Tokugawa period when family was the social and economic unity of society. Occupation and property belonged to the family.
Continuation of the family line was thus a primary concern because it was a necessity for keeping ones position and income. Individuals often sacrificed their happiness to ensure survival of the family. After Japan was centralized under the Meiji government in the 19th century, the concept of filial piety was expended to embrace the idea of loyalty to the emperor, who was regarded as the father of the nation. 20 The Confucian concepts of hierarchy in human society and respect for age were useful in the feudal society, also during the Tokugawa period, which was structured hierarchically.
Its stability rested on individual’s dutiful fulfillment of obligations to their superiors and maintenance of proper conduct in daily life. The general rules of conduct were respect for seniors in social rank and age, and acknowledgement of the superiority of man over women. Additionally, Confucius laid down that Ren or benevolence was the supreme virtue the follower can attain. As a strictly natural and humanistic love, it was based upon spontaneous feelings cultivated through education. In order to attain Ren, you have to practice Li, which represents social norms.
The latter can be interpreted as rituals, rites or proprieties and includes all moral codes and social institutions. As Li is a term for moral codes and social institutions, one could assume that the practice of Li is to enforce social conformity at the cost of the individual. However, an individual personality is not an entity cut off from the group. According to Confucius, in order to establish one self, one has to establish others. There is interdependence between the individual and the group that is essential in order to create harmony.
The strong Japanese cultural preference for basing business transactions upon the quality of inter-personal relationships and for settling disputes through mediation rather than relying upon contracts and legal process can be seen to stem from this philosophy (McGreal: 1995). According to Confucius, all societies deal with survival, production, distribution, and consumption – yet they all develop different systems in order to survive and obtain their ultimate goals and aims. Things have changed in the Japanese society when it comes to material and technological development.
As far as human relations and communication with foreigners are concerned, things have not changed. One can say that Japan has modernized, but it has not westernized just yet (Kodansha, 1994: 202-218, McGreal, 1995: 5-7, Cohen, 1997: 159-160, Gudykunst & Kim, 2003: 80, 119, 217, Samovar & Porter, 2004: 213-217). 8. 2 Ie Japan is a Shinto, Confucianism and Zen Buddhism inspired culture, Confucianism being the fundament, where everything and everyone is connected and relies on each other in order to exist. 21
The concept of ie, or extended household/kinship unit in traditional Japan, thus containing more than close family members all living under the same roof – and under the authority of one male, describes this way of thinking, or the Japanese values, the best. The main focus in ie is on in-group benefits, harmony and family – where interdependence and togetherness is essential (de Mooij, 2004: 100-1003, Harumi, 1971). Although the ie-concept does not formally exist in the original form 8 , as it did during the pre-modern or feudal Japan, one still finds it in the underlying values of the Japanese people.
The ie-concept 9 became dominant and visible during the Edo or Tokugawa period (16001867), where a strict political regime was introduced by the Tokugawa family, who, besides retaining large estates, also took control of major cities, ports and mines in Japan. Under Tokugawa rule, Japan entered a period of national seclusion (sakoku), where the Japanese were forbidden to travel to or return from overseas or to trade abroad. Only the Dutch, Chinese and Koreans were allowed to remain and they were placed under strict supervision.
Additionally, to ensure political security, the daimyo were required to make ceremonial visits to Edo every other year, and their wives and children were kept in permanent residence in Edo as virtual hostages of the government. The cost of this constant movement and the family ties in Edo made it difficult for the daimyo to remain anything but loyal. At the lower end of society, farmers were subject to a severe system of rules, which dictated their food, clothing and housing. Social mobility from one class to another was blocked – social standing was determined by birth.
Additionally, women in the Japanese society were fully submitted men 10 . Women were submitted either their fathers, husbands or in the case of widows, their eldest son – with no legal rights. Ie means extended household – thus containing more than close family members all living under the same roof – and under the authority of one male. Ie was formally abolished in 1947 with the introduction of the New Constitution, which prescribed a more “Democratic” family system based on equal rights of husbands and wives. Inspired by Confucianism. 10 This submission was further supported by the Civil Code of 1898, which placed women in the family under the authority of men. 8 22 The patriarchal family structure, ie, was officially abandoned in 1947, but one can still sense its presence, in a revised form, in today’s Japanese society – both in the corporal system where the chief executive is the male, who has been working for the company longest time, and in family life where women take care of children and men provide for the well-being of the amily. Nevertheless, the rigid emphasis of these times on submitting unquestionably to rules of obedience and loyalty has lasted to the present day. Today the ie-concept is still visible in that Japanese businessmen do not entertain their business associates at home. There is both a practical and a social reason for not doing so. First of all, the typical Japanese home is small and a larger group of people simply cannot fit in. Second,” Home” for the Japanese is very private.
It is generally only open to relatives, long-time friends, children’s friends and their own family – the so-called in-group. Additionally, salary has for many years been linked to the age of employees until they entered their forties to fifties age – a male worker had thus a lifetime-employment guarantee until they reached their fifties. However, this system does not operate in small-business sector. The seniority system is one of the special characteristics of Japanese employment practices.
Since the 1990s, however, there has been a substantial increase in the number of companies, who are reconsidering this type of employment system, and progress is being made in introducing a new compensation system based on employee’s performance rather than their age and the amount of time they have worked for the company in question (Sugimoto, 1997: 80, Kodansha, 1994: 117-118, Hendry, 1998: 22-39). In short, ie puts an emphasis upon continuity, succession practices, and some of the socioreligious (e. . volunteer organizations such as environmental movement groups) functions that still occupy an important place in Japan today (Refsing, 1990, 11-25, Bando, 1980: 27-29, Hendry, 1998: 22-39, Harumi, 1971: 38-39, Sugimoto, 1997: 80, Kodansha, 1994: 117-118) 8. 3 The Wa-concept According to Wierzbicka, cultural values and behavior of a particular culture can be found in a core concept. For Japan this core concept is wa, which means harmony, unity or the desire to be one with those of your in-group.
The wa-concept illustrates the concept, with several aspects (please see below), that although people have differences, it is the most convenient when people want the same thing at the deepest level. 23 This deep level of sharing underlies the desire for harmony at the interpersonal level, as well as a high level of consideration of others within ones group, and creates a unity among members of the in-group. In Japan, individuals are thus expected to act in ways that protect the unity or wa of the in-group (Wierzbicka, 1992).
The several aspects, which the Wa-concept consists of, are described and discussed below: Enryo is an aspect that is encompassed in wa, illustrates the effort of avoiding explicit opinions, assessments, or other displays of personal feelings. It is thus a form of self-restraint that proscribes the brining of attention to oneself and ones personal desires in order to avoid having others think badly of one. Japan has been categorized as a high-context culture, and in a communicative context, the meaning is often implicit. The focus is thus on the listener and his or her ability to understand implicit messages.
Sasshi refers thus to the ability to guess or intuit another person’s meaning without that person having to express it directly. Implicit communication is essential in a collective culture where maintaining harmony and avoiding conflicts is essential. Amae refers to a form of mutual dependency, or a relationship in which one person is in a protective stance toward another (Wierzbicka, 1992). The desire for amae motivates one to belong to a group and depend on another person. Amae emphasizes thus a protective relationship and a mutual dependency between the members of the in-group.
Giri refers to a type of obligation felt toward others who have done something good for the person. According to Befu, it is a “moral imperative to perform ones duties toward members of ones group” (Befu, 1986: 162). It is also a long-term relationship and a sense that one will be forever in the other person’s debt. This sense of obligation is very typical in a culture that stresses the wa-concept as well as in collectivist cultures, where members of the in-group are closely tied to each other. Awase refers to the ability to always be able to adjust to the situation or the circumstances.
The self is thus constantly changing and moving with the situation, whereas the group is constant and needs to be maintained. Thus, maintaining wa equals being flexible in situations, and not on consistently following ones principles. 24 Kenson involves discounting ones abilities and to avoid standing out in order to maintain the status quo of a relationship. Kenson is sometimes manifested in a verbal apology, and it demonstrates a desire not to disturb the nature of the relationship, and a desire to maintain group harmony.
For instance, a speaker may begin his or her speech by apologizing to the audience for his or her low status or insufficient knowledge on the topic – this depicts humility. Kata refers to the constant and familiar way something is done. In Japan, there is a kata or form for almost everything – from the way one plays ball to the way one performs a tea ceremony. The Japanese thus value form over function and process over outcome – an important element to remember when involved in negotiations with the Japanese.
This again refers to the uncertainty-avoidance that is present in the Japanese culture, which illustrates itself in the form of strict rules and regulation (Wierzbicka, 1992, Gudykunst & Kim, 2003: 5354). 8. 4 Isolation Another dimension characterizing Japan is the historical separateness of Japan from the rest of the world 11 , and the strong belief in the uniqueness of the Japanese culture and society. Its distance from the Asian continent and from the rest of the world had a crucial influence over the formation of the Japanese society and culture.
The isolation began during the Tokugawa period when the Tokugawa government was trying to create relative peace and security. Instead, the government was facing stagnation, corruption and isolation. Famines and poverty among the peasants and samurai weakened the system even further. Additionally, foreign ships (from Russia, Britain and the USA) started to examine Japan’s isolation with increasing insistence, and Japan realized that their defenses were outdated and ineffective. In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry of the US Navy arrived with his famous “black ships” to demand the opening of Japan to trade, followed y other countries. This resulted in a stream of antigovernment feeling among the Japanese due to the fact that it failed to defend Japan against foreigners and of neglecting the national reconstruction and modernization. 11 The first contact with the West occurred about 1542, when a Portuguese ship, blown off its course to China, landed in Japan. 25 After 200 years of total isolation from the outside world – due to the fear of Western and Christian invasion or superiority, Japan agreed to open the country to the outside world.
Nevertheless, 200 years of isolation has resulted in a rather great amount of regulations, etc. (one may argue that this is a hidden form of protectionism) that are there in order to adopt an e. g. Western product to the needs and circumstances of the Japanese culture. This separateness, or isolation, has also caused the Japanese to be extremely aware of anything that comes from outside, and they thus strongly distinguish between foreign and native culture, as well as its products and innovations (Reischauer, 1995: 32, Kodansha, 1994: 32-37, 131-132, Wakaba, 1996: 4-12). 8. 5
Uniqueness The Japanese people have long believed that they are the children or descendants of gods, living in a divinely land. In the 18th century, the scholar, Motoori Norinaga, was responsible for resurrecting ancient myths about Japan and the Japanese. Before Norinaga’s time, Japanese scholar viewed China and its civilization as the most important in the world. Norinaga attacked this view, claiming that Japan was superior to any other country in the world. According to him, Japan was the country where the Sun Goddess was born, making it the epicenter of all other nations.
With the appearance from the early 19th century of Russian, British, and other foreign ships in the waters of Japan, there was an intense debate on how to react, since the country had had a policy of isolation from the rest of the world for two hundred years. The military government thus attempted to promote hate and fear of foreigners by law 12 . In 1825, Expulsion Edict was implemented, prohibiting all barbarians and Westerners from entering Japan. If a foreign ship was seen, it was fired upon and driven off. If foreigners went ashore, they were captured and their ship destroyed. 2 Antiforeign attitudes in Japan have generally been limited to the official level. 26 The belief in superiority and uniqueness of all things Japanese have weakened but not entirely disappeared in the present-day Japan. Although this extraordinarily chauvinistic mentality was temporarily restrained after the defeat in WWII, the post-war “economic miracle” has reawakened the feelings once again. Nevertheless, the rigid, exclusive world view that has been present in pre-1945 Japan, no longer dominates the country.
Ultra-nationalism has been discredited – at least in mainstream social, political, and intellectual life. The ideology that has its place is a set of rules by which society generally has learned to operate efficiently. The set of rules are learned from parent, the authority figures, the educational system and the mass media, and contain among other things social solidarity, or collectivistic behavior and thinking, hierarchical social structure, or power distance, role playing, or tatemae, reciprocal obligations, or group harmony.
Although this set of rules is far weaker than the pre-war ultra-nationalistic ideology, it is still more rigid and omnipotent than those of e. g. Western societies. In Japan, the rights of the group are thus prioritized over those of the individual, and there are rules for most activities, creating a dependency on others and on group, which again reinforces an ideal of rules, group harmony and collectivism. The Japanese ideal portrays men and women behaving modestly, speaking prudently, and avoiding offending others and maintaining in-group harmony. For them, the deal of individualism is un-noble, risky and illogical. The Japanese desire people to be polite, courteous and indirect with each other. The Japanese are only frank on rare occasions, striving to put the best face, as well as save face, on themselves and situations (Cohen, 1997:146147, 184-186, 224). To express what one really thinks or feels in Japan is regarded as uncultivated and vulgar. The Japanese do not see themselves in first place as individuals, but as group-oriented members. The social group gives them approval, identity and companionship, status, and meaning as such with their lives.
All the group members are interdependent. Matsumoto used a food model in order to describe human relations in Japan, calling it natto (fermented soybeans). Fermented soybeans sit in sticky glue of starch, and it is impossible to extract one without pulling out the others – they are all connected by the same glue. According to Matsumoto, the beans represent the closeness and interdependence present in the Japanese culture (March, 1996: 15-34, Kodansha, 1994: 32-37, 131-132, Wakaba, 1996: 4-12). 27 8. 6 Western Influence
The Japanese culture has been greatly influenced by Western cultures throughout the years, such as the British, the Prussian (e. g. in 1889, Japan created Western-style constitution greatly influenced by Prussia), the Portuguese, and the American. The Western influence entered the shores of Japan through trade, Christianity (missionaries) and war (WWII and the American occupation), as well as through cultural and business exchanges (e. g. through travels and international business). During the mid-16th Century, the Europeans made their first appearance on the shores of Japan.
The first Portuguese to be shipwrecked in 1543 found an appreciative Japanese reception for their skills in making firearms. The Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, arrived in 1549, and was followed by more missionaries who converted local lords to Christianity (several hundred thousand converts particularly in Nagasaki) – keen to profit from foreign trade and assistance with military supplies. Initially, the Japanese emperor saw the advantages of trading with Europeans and tolerated the arrival of Christianity as a counterbalance to Buddhism.
However, this tolerance gradually turned into suspicion of a religion, which he saw as a threat to his rule. This suspicion resulted in rulings against Christianity and the crucifixion of 26 foreign priests and Japanese believers in 1597. The prohibition and the prosecution of Christianity continued under the Tokugawa government until it reached its peak in 1637 with the brutal suppression by the authorities of the Christianled Shimabara Rebellion. This put an end to the Christian Century although the religion continued to be practiced secretly until it was officially allowed at the end of the 19th Century.
Additionally, in order to eliminate Christianity’s presence in Japan, it was required for every family to register a Buddhist temple, becoming a familiar scene in every community. Because of this religious policy, all Japanese today are Buddhist by default. The Western influence continued during the Meiji period (1868-1912) when the Japanese economy underwent a crash course in westernization and industrialization. An influx of Western experts was encouraged and Japanese students were sent abroad to acquire expertise in modern technologies.
During the Meiji period, the process of modernization and industrialization took place in Japan, inspired by Western philosophers. An almost obsessive admiration and adaptation of Western ideas and culture had taken place during this period. 28 By the 1890s, the Japanese government leaders were concerned by the spread of liberal Western ideas and encouraged nationalism and traditional Japanese values. Japan was becoming more confident and an equal player to the Western powers, resulting in the abolition of foreign treaty rights and, in the years to come, in nationalism.
This continued till Japan’s defeat in WWII, and the American occupation. The main aim of the occupation was to reform the Japanese government through demilitarization, the trial of war criminals and the removal of militarist and ultranationalists from the government. Additionally, a new constitution was introduced, which dismantled the political power of the emperor, forcing him to publicly reject any claim to divine origins. Once again, Japan was influenced, if not ruled, by Western powers. Finally, in the late 19th century, Western Europe became its model for modernization.