An Investigation of Japanese Corporate Culture, Its Trends And Changes Essay

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An Investigation of Japanese Corporate Culture, Its Trends And ChangesJapanese Business & Culture bus 258. 1Table of Contents1. 0 Introduction2. 0 Procedure3. 0 Findings3.
1 Changing social culture. 3. 2 Business Culture in Japan3. 3 Why change is needed3. 4 What is Japan and her corporations doing to develop and change4.
0 Conclusion5. 0 BibliographyJapanese Business & CultureAn investigation Japanese corporate culture, itstrends and changes. 1. 0 IntroductionThis report is based around the followingquote: “Japan’s corporate culture is the product of uniquely Japanese social andhistorical influences, so deeply rooted as to easily repel outside influences. Bur Japanese corporations need to change their basic goals. .
. . ” This report willdiscuss nature of corporate culture in Japan, and why change is needed. Themaximum length is 2,000 words2.
0 Procedure The report was produced using library based research because ofthe time scale and cost. The sources used include text books, journals andnewspapers. . The references have been made ‘Harvard Style’ and can be found inthe Bibliography. 3. 0 Findings The Japanese business culture has been described by Beedham as aculture that acts like a clan, in that there is a large amount of authoritygiven to the man at the top, and in the commitment that is shown by the peoplearound him, Beedham points out that this can be evident in the way that theircar factories, investment banks and government ministries are ran.
This clan-like-behaviour has the effect of making decision making painfully slow,with compromises having to be met in all directions, but this is starting tochange, as the people of Japan are starting to change and have differentpriorities. These changes can be put down to several factors that are changingin Japanese society as a whole. 3. 1 Changing social culture.
The increasing and speeding up of urbanisation isone way in which corporate culture is being changed. Because of thisurbanisation there is less commitment to groups as people become more individualand have their own priority in life. Marriage and family ties are also startingto loosen. Links between children, parents and grandparents are not the same asthey were ten years ago. The greatest impact on peoples commitment to their work is money. As theJapanese become richer, they are starting to see that there is a lot more tojust working every hour possible.
With this extra money they have been giventhe opportunity to make friends out of the workplace and focus on otheractivities such as clubbing, music, football etc. and they are seeing sparetime differently. But this is only taking place on the outside edge of Japanesesociety and the core of Japan which includes the big businesses, are stilloperating in the traditional way of life and it has been estimated that it willtake a further fifty years before a new way of living and lifestyle becomes thenorm. (Beedham)3. 2 Business Culture in JapanBusiness Culture is said to be the product of the mind and is often describedas: “how we do things round here”.
(source unknown) Before describing thecorporate culture within Japan it is useful to understand the corporate culturein the West as a comparison. In the West, business is simply about profitseeking. Its Managers and workers are there to increase profit for the owners ofa corporation. The employees are evaluated by how much of a contribution theymake towards the generating of this profit.
The Western corporation is designedlike a profit machine and operated like a profit machine. Within the Japanese business world, the corporation is not seen as been therefor just profit. Profit is important, but it is not the only reason for thecompany’s existence, but involves people and their future. The community factoris as important, and sometimes more important than, short term profitability. The Japanese business people see their company as a community, this communityhas within in it people who happen to live together by working together.
Thecompany is a living society which needs profit as sustenance for growth. Western Europe and China, has seen many revolutions throughout their history inareas such as their religions, politics, industry and culture. When theserevolutions occur new system of thinking replaced the old, sometimes thesechanges are forced upon the population. It was not so in Japan, where newsystem of thought, whether made internally or introduced from abroad, was addedto or mixed with what was the current ideal. Because of this accumulation and mixing of ideas, the Japanese mind has becamemore complex than the so called “enlightened” cosmopolitan Western mind, andretains the archaic, medieval, modern and post-modern views. An example of thealmost schizophrenic thinking of a typical business man from Japan could be, anEnglish speaking business manager of an internationally operating company maybehave like a rice growing villager in his board room discussions, then the sameperson behaves like a Samurai clansman in the competitive market, and like adevoted Buddhist in social functions and like a scientist when he is in searchof a solution for his business problems.
At the core of the Japanese mind there is a basic notion of ANIMISM, this is thebelief that everything has a spirit which is the nature-worshipping religion ofShintoism. Confucianism, Taoism and other schools of thought which came fromChina are added on top of Shintoism, which is still a powerful element of theJapanese culture and determines many aspects of the social and organisationalbehaviours. Chinese and Korean scholars and immigrants brought in other types ofthinking into Japan and those new ideas were mixed with the indigenous idealswhich has resulted in a hybrid strain of philosophy, religion and social ethicsThen Buddhism which was refined in China was a further addition to the Japanesecharacter. The final layer added the Japanese character was added throughglobalisation, and occurred in the middle of the nineteenth century and again in1945. After the American occupation in 1945, to think like Europeans wasstrongly encouraged. This was accepted but at the same time they retained the”Japanese spirit”.
(source: unknown, Internet)3. 3 Why change is needed Because of the complex way in which the Japanesethought process works and the way that the corporate culture works is not seenas the easiest country to do business with. Japan protects its markets and itsideals. With the economic bubble bursting and the emergence of the China as aeconomic force change is needed to get the economy running at the levels it onceenjoyed. As well as China there are the other Tiger economies in the Pacificthat are emerging and becoming big players. There are calls for the country to go through further economic deregulation.
Shoichiro Toyoda is one of the people calling for this and states:’We have to reform and cut our high costs if we are to compete in the future. ‘He also says that Japanese companies should become more global, and that it isnecessary for companies both to compete and co-operate in international marketsand to become more outward looking, (FT 96 Dec 05 page 6)Japan needs to change from a manufacturing-led to consumer-driven economy; froman over-regulated bureaucracy to a more open market; and from a culture ofcorporate rigidity to one of entrepreneurial freedom. Change has to occur but as long as each section of society continues to benefitfrom the current situation, there will continue to be no foreseeable movementfor change, this lack of development will bring about the end of Japan as aeconomic power or at least take away the influence it has on the world. Howeverthis change cannot just be a gradual change because if it is not quicker in thenext 10 years than it was in the previous five, it is highly likely that itwill not be able to get back its old position and instead will go into decline. (FT 96 Dec 02 page 20)3. 4 What is Japan and her corporations doing to develop and changeAt the moment there is a definite change in policy and a deliberate attempt atchange within the corporations and this is helped by political changes too.
An example of this is seen in the appointment of Taizo Nishimuro as thepresident of Toshiba. There are three reasons why this appointment was seen asagainst the norm. The first was that he had spent 14 years overseas. This isseen as a long time and not the norm for a future corporate, because in Japan,head office jobs are seen as the quickest and best way to get to the topechelons .
Secondly Mr Nishimuro was not next in line to the job as typicallyhappens within Japanese corporations. There were another nine executives aheadof him, this was another big change in a corporate culture where senioritymatters. And finally Nishimuro was not from Toshiba’s heavy engineering divisionbut is an electronics expert, which is a big change for this particularcorporation and is another indication of how much they want to change . (FT 96Dec 05 page 6)Another corporation that is changing the way it is ran forever is Canon, whosupply computer printer, copier and camera’s. There internal changes have beenin action for a longer period than most Japanese corporations. Their changeshave been taken place over the last decade.
It has given more managementcontrol to its foreign based subsidiaries, hired a greater proportion of foreignstaff and management, and increased research and development abroad, and this amassive move from what is seen as the ‘norm’ in Japan. This change to Canon’sculture and operations became even more radical during the summer of ’96. During this period, world responsibility for a series of key R&D projects wasswitched away from its headquarters in Tokyo to the US, France and Britain. Since this there have been more Japanese corporation follow this lead. (FT 96Nov 18 page 14)It is generally accepted that because of the structure and culture withinJapanese corporations that their R&D is not as effective as it could be, aseverything is from the grass roots up.
The people at the bottom of the chainare asked and checked and so on. This is the reason behind these changes. The Prime Minister of Japan, Ryutaro Hashimoto, has said that he wants to putin place far-reaching financial reforms. A great surprise to all was the ideathat the Ministry ofFinance, which is the very heart of Japan’s bureaucratic oligarchy, should bebroken up. With the policy ideas of Ryutaro Hashimoto concerning deregulation, there hasseen a mobile phone boom, a lowering in air fares and the establishment ofJapan’s first proper supermarketsIn the corporate sector, cross-shareholdings are to be slowly dissolved, and abig change is in the perception that corporation have on profit.
Companies arenow starting to set targets for their financial returns. (FT 96 Dec 02 page20)4. 0 ConclusionThe Japanese business culture is very different from that in western countriesand China and this is a consequences of their history. Japan has never beeninvaded but different ideologies, religions and ways of thinking have beinterwoven into the Japanese character. There is however change occurring within the Japanese social structure.
This ismainly down to the speeding up of urbanisation and this has the knock on effectof changing the corporate culture slightlyJapanese corporations are not seen as been there for just profit. Profit isimportant, but it is not the only reason for the company’s existence, butinvolves people and their future. This is however changing with corporationsstarting to set financial targets for themselves and cut costs. Ways in which the Japanese corporate culture is starting to change can be foundin the way that promotions are decided. In the past seniority meant everythingand no some positions are given on merit.
Also, management positions arestarting to be taken up by foreigners, as well as R&D relocation outside Japan. Japanese politics are also helping in the change of culture. Deregulation andliberalisation promote a more dynamic organisation culture and structure butthese developments need backing up with further proposals to deregulate andpromote entrepreneurship5. 0 BibliographyBrian Beedham, Tomorrow’s Japan, The Economist, July 13th 1996 Various Internetarticle with no title or author. FT 96 Dec 05 page 6/ Survey – JapaneseIndustry: Routes to the top FT 96 Dec 02 page 20/ Lex Column: Japan FT 96 Nov18 page 14/ Management: Time to pull back the screen

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