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An Innocent Abroad -A Case Study in Cross-Cultural Management

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Introduction

Fred Bailey: An Innocent Abroad -A Case Study in Cross-Cultural Management The Baileys' problems Fred Bailey is the managing director of Kline & Associates' Tokyo office, and have been for the past six months. He was notified about the assignment seven months ago, and him and his wife, Jennifer, made the decision together to relocate to Japan for three years. After moving to Tokyo, Japan and living there for six months the couple is experiencing problems with adjusting to the culture. Fred are facing three different major problems in his work as managing director for the firm. The first problem he met was conducting a meeting with his subordinates. His experience of the meeting was that it was unsuccessful, because he laid out his plans for the future directions of the company office, and did not receive the desired response from his Japanese colleagues. His second problem has been with a significant prospective client. He met with the company five months ago, and in his American direct and concise way introduced his company's proposal straight away and expected the Japanese to respond immediately, the Japanese did not. The third problem Fred has encountered has been with one of his employees. He asked Watanabe, a promising Japanese research associate to prepare a report on the client company in order to prepare a better proposal for them -as it turned out Watanabe thought the task too big for him to finish in a week, but did not utter his concerns about ...read more.

Middle

They are there for information, which they can digest and discuss and then meet again to decide upon. They are not prepared to make any commitment in a first meeting. Another reasons why the Japanese may have reacted in the way that they did, is the fact that Fred laid out his goals for the office. It is important for the Japanese to be a part of a group, and when an individual does things for himself, they may experience it as uncomfortable and unnatural. A lot of the same things are true for Fred's meeting with the prospective client. He went straight to the point -the Japanese considers it important to spend time in the beginning of a meeting to harmonise with each other, even if this means simply sitting quietly together. After his presentation he also did not allow for the Japanese to sit quietly and react to the information, which is natural for them; he rather tried to rush them into a decision. This is not normal for the Japanese, they were there to gather information, and will not be willing to make a commitment after only one meeting. The fact that after five months, still no decision has been made, does not necessarily mean that they will not sign with Fred's company; it simply means that the Japanese take time to consider, discuss and feel about decision before they are made -and they may take a long time. ...read more.

Conclusion

A suggested solution to culture shock is simply giving things time. However, this may also not be the case. The problems Fred and Jennifer are experiencing may be of a calibre that is not easily brushed away as a temporary culture shock, and solved by time. Fred should contact his superiors in the company and consult them with his problems. It would be a good idea for the company to provide some cultural-awareness training for the family now, if they wish for them to stay on assignment. Adler (1997) claims that even if there is no time to provide pre-departure training, there is always time to provide information and training whilst on the assignment. The subject of language lessons may also be considered, and even though Japanese may take time to learn, some knowledge of it may give the couple more self-esteem when interacting with the Japanese. The company could also set the Baileys up with another expatriate family who have successfully settled in Tokyo; they may provide valuable advice and even friendships for both Fred and Jennifer. Another person to get in touch with could be the manager who had the assignment before Fred -he might have some input on how Fred should go about dealing with his co-workers and clients. The couple can also study literature on the subject of Japanese culture -as this might help their understanding of the Japanese culture and their acceptance of it. This can eventually help them settle in and enjoy their stay in Japan. 1 ...read more.

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