Term Paper: Cross Cultural Management Cross

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Cross Cultural Management

Cross-Cultural Management

The article this analysis is based on, Learning to 'Do Time' in Japan a Study of U.S. Interns in Japanese Organizations, presents a theoretical framework for analyzing the impact of U.S.-based interns travelling to Japan to work in corporations there with specific focus on studying how time is perceived differently between their Japanese managers and their U.S. intern counterparts. Tomoko Masumoto 2004. (p. 19) defines the framework as focusing on how the expectations of time itself vary between the two groups, measures the time taken to adapt and become productive, and also defines how space allocation and use of space correlate to the Japanese perception of time. This shared space and socialization aspect of the study presents a culture shock to American students, who have long equated status and independence with the relative level of privacy in American and westernized corporations. The study concludes with an analysis of the variation of how the relative level of feedback and its frequency fuel a sense of security on the job or not, and concludes with an analysis of short-versus long-term orientation on the part of each group. What is fascinating about this study is that the interns arrive in the Japanese companies fully intent on making large contributions quickly, looking for cause-and-effect in their efforts (Tomoko Masumoto 2004, p. 33) yet are frustrated at the clarity of this connection. The Japanese managers counter that many efforts are undertaken, specifically in the areas of research cited, yet the work completed may not ever be used. There are additional dichotomies such as these, all pointing to an urgency to attain mastery of the performance aspects of their positions on the part of interns, yet the Japanese managers see the experience more as an opportunity to learn from them on how to involved more globally-based associates in decisions (p. 20).

Assessment of the Theoretical Framework

In defining a framework to illustrate the significant variations in the perception of time and its very nature across the culture of U.S. interns vs. career Japanese managers, Masumoto has successfully created a comparison-based approach to gleaning insightful and useful information from the analysis completed. The strength of Masumoto's framework is seen in Figure 1 (p. 26) that illustrates the vast variation in the perception of time to attain Job Skills on the part of a U.S..-based intern relative to their Japanese Manager's estimate. An intern approximated 3 weeks to 5 months for job skill mastery, while the Japanese managers had a median level of between 3 to 5 years for Job Skill mastery. Clearly the Japanese managers, as shown in this framework, value socialization and understanding the formal and informal interpersonal relationships and structure vs. pure performance. This variation in the perception of the value of work would later come out in other aspects of the research as well

Second, the framework specifically shows that Japanese supervisors have a much higher level of expectations with regard to socialization and the ability to assimilate quickly into groups. These Japanese managers expected an assimilation process of 1 to a few weeks, while the U.S.-based interns assumed several months to literally "never." The fascinating findings of this part of the framework suggest that assimilation into groups and the ability to become socialized into new surroundings is an innate strength of the Japanese due to their culture stressing these values over individuality and independence. Conversely the interns were not nearly as willing to let go of their independence and sense of personal space at first, until the collaborative aspects of the working conditions became apparent. Further, there is the implication that the framework shows that trust once earned through socialization actually made the open room seating arrangements more conducive to higher levels of communication as well. The implications of higher levels of communication, coupled with the emphasis on socialization and assimilation in the Japanese culture is supported by empirically-based studies of trust as well (Downes, Hemmasi, Graf, Kelley, Huff, 2002, p. 616). The framework also illustrates how drastically different long-term orientation is between interns and Japanese managers, including how interns continually held to a highly segmented view of time while Japanese managers underscores how much more fluid time was in their perception. This is exemplified in the normative behavior being to stay after 5pm to have a time to socialize both about work and also transition from the purely task-oriented communications of the day to more interpersonal ones. This is in direct opposition to the perception of time by interns that 5pm was "quitting time" and it was time to go and get started on personal agendas including dinner with friends and getting out of work. The fluidity of time as evidenced by Japanese' managers' concentration on socializing and work, including long sequences of time taken in meetings to think through responses, is characteristic of polychronic time (p. 20). Conversely the interns were seen as having more of a sequential view of time considered to be monochromic (p. 20) in structure and perception. This difference in the perception of how time is managed and used daily is one of the primary differences in how interns vs. Japanese managers also viewed time from a much longer-range perspective as well. To the Japanese managers, the time required to do a specific task was incidental to the year spent committed to learning the organizational structure and core aspects of a company's business. In effect the framework suggests that Japanese managers have developed the ability to delay gratification in their roles as managers and also as contributors for the common good of a more comprehensive set of solutions to problems. This is supported by empirical research that shows Japanese managers have consistently shown the ability to delay gratification for extended periods of time to ensure consensus was achieved through appropriate channels (Beldona, Inkpen, Phatak, 1998; p. 240). Consistent with the framework as defined by Masumoto, Japanese managers advise an intern to not be frustrated if immediate results are not achieved, or immediate contributions made. The process of learning how to make a contribution in a Japanese corporation appears to be even more important than the contribution itself.

Assessment of the Research Approach

For this study to have significance it was critical to use a longitudinally-based methodology to capture change in perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors over time for both the interns and the Japanese managers. The stratification of industries also serves to normalize the results across the Japanese cultural influence as well. Completing interviews pre-departure, after one or two months working in Japan, at the midpoint of their internships, and at the close of their internships provides useful tracking data to see how the perceptions of Japanese culture, and specifically time, were changing throughout the study period. The gradual assimilation and socialization of interns appeared to progress much faster than any had assumed. In terms of measuring the five key issues related to time, the longitudinally-developed study accomplished its intended purpose.

Yet the study could have been more thoroughly defined from an empirical standpoint, specifically focusing on the impact of any training programs on interns' changed perception of time. Training programs for Japanese companies often stress the long-term role of strategies over short-term, burst-like results as perceived by Japanese managers of western management styles (Neelankavil, 1992; p. 12). Further, there is a potential model to define how trust is created over the long-term specifically through assimilation and socialization processes that could have been empirically defined through the research as well. The role of socialization and trust is one that is prominent in assimilation of foreign workers into Japanese environments (Downes, Hemmasi, Graf, Kelley, Huff, 2002, p. 617). Finally there was the potential to specifically defined a maturity model of how the interns progressed from viewing project short-term to seeing the long-term and uncertain aspect of completing research for example. For Japanese managers it is just as important to go through the process and learn from it as it is to complete the assignment, and in that varying definition of just what closure is, there is the potential to define a maturity model overall. Empirical research on the effect of individual perceptions of deadlines on team performance (Waller, Conte, Gibson, Carpenter, 2001; pp. 586-601) could have been used as a foundation to also ascertain how a perception of the differences in just what a "deadline" was in a Japanese company vs. A westernized or American one specifically could have added significantly to both a maturity model and an analysis of how interactions on tasks contribute to overall performance for the long-term. Lastly, all these factors combined could have been used to define a feedback model that would measure why the interns weren't picking up on the nonverbal cues from managers regarding their performance. This lack of feedback was one of the most prevalent complaints from interns who participated in the experiment. Yet Japanese managers countered that they had given an abundance of feedback through traditional means anyone from their nation would have picked… [END OF PREVIEW]

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