Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Cultural Differences Japanese And Americans


Published on

A short essay written during my doctoral coursework.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Cultural Differences Japanese And Americans

  1. 1. Cultural Considerations: Japanese and American Management Styles From the readings, one sees a great many differences between Japanese and Americans in not only the approach to leading and managing in the work environment directly but in the approach to business as a process. These differences are underscored in the text in the approach to cell manufacturing. In the Japanese model, the workers are involved in the cell operation and in producing the highest-quality product possible. They expected to get it right the first time, but they are not expected to address (and culturally would not think to address) the way business decisions are made concerning the company vision or how the company is organized and run. They would not make any suggestions regarding human resources operations. American workers have a distinctly different experience. The American worker feels very free to ask questions about “how” the company is being run, to “suggest” improvements in the company vision, and to speak out on the quality of management. This last thought is particularly interesting, as it addresses the core difference between Westerners (epitomized by Americans), and Easterners (epitomized by the Japanese). It is the democratic nature of Westerners in general, and Americans in particular, considered against the Confucianism culture of Asians in general, and for this argument, the Japanese, that marks the dividing line for this whole argument. (Note: currently, the performance of the Japanese in the international business community is troubled by the changing demographics of the Japanese population, and it is evident that similar social ills are about to trouble the American economy. The aging population, troubled real estate market, and a weakened banking program are very disconcerting issues for the professional and academic community.) Copyright © 2006 All rights reserved.
  2. 2. Cultural Considerations - 2 Is there a measurable problem with the methods in general due to the cultural differences? The problem is not as significant as was first observed, as a result of some cultural shifting over the last ten or fifteen years. The Japanese at first did not seem interested in hiring Western managers for the plants they were relocating to Western nations. They wanted basically to utilize Western workers under Japanese management. They hadn’t considered the cultural differences between Japanese workers and Western workers. This had some unusual and obviously unintended outcomes. Workers who had once felt free to argue with managers about process were now rebuffed, and didn’t respect their new managers. After some time, the Japanese did add some leaders, supervisors, and low-level managers, with, as noted in the text for the British and Mexican plants, “shadow” Japanese managers. Their approach evolved to the point where they have plants with local leaders who report to their Japanese corporate leadership. But does this mean the continuous improvement theory is discredited? Does it mean that the well established “kaizen” theory is being re-examined? No more than any management theory is discredited. Rather, quality management is being re-examined all the time. All theories go through periods of fad-like popularity, and all reach a point of reexamination. Academicians and business managers will constantly want to determine whether there is a “better way” to get the best quality and the right product the first time, with the least effort and resource requirements. There are certainly different approaches in “how” to manufacture a product, and “how” to lead workers to manufacture that product. But ultimately, the goal is to get the highest-quality product with the least effort. The Japanese are culturally different from
  3. 3. Cultural Considerations - 3 the Americans, as both are coming to recognize. They are figuring out how to get to the crucial end result in spite of those differences. The monitoring processes they will use will have some similarities to their predecessors, but they will grow and evolve as well.