Working for a Japanese Company: Insights into the Multicultural Workplace

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9784770015334: Working for a Japanese Company: Insights into the Multicultural Workplace
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Robert March, author of The Japanese Negotiator, now critically examines the Japanese multinational company from the perspective of its non-Japanese employees in the United States, Japan and abroad. Against a background of growing Japanese Investment overseas and simultaneously increasing concern about the qualifications of some Japanese companies as good employers abroad, March examines, through the actual experiences of their foreign employees, how the vastly different ideas of the Japanese about good management practice, corporate culture, harmony in the workplace, interpersonal communication, employment conditions, decision-making power for non-Japanese, and manager-subordinate relationships often lead to many real problems in the workplace, and sometimes escalate into an ultimate polarization between Japanese and non-Japanese personnel.
Using the successful approach of his earlier book (which Savvy Magazine called "an indispensable guide to the ins and outs of Japanese commerce"), March uses revealing testimony from foreign employees in Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Asia to show how the Japanese really manage and direct their foreign employees, as well as to expose the roots of tension, misunderstanding, confusion, frustration and antagonism in the multinational Japanese company. A longtime student of Japanese corporate behavior who himself has many years of first-hand experience working for the Japanese in Japan and abroad, March in Working For A Japanese Company presents a comprehensive study of what it is really like to work for the Japanese - and the first guide to evaluating Japanese companies as employers. His skillful use of verbatim interview materials is combined with the interpretive approach of a cultural anthropologist who is completely at home in a business environment. Reading Working for a Japanese Company will transform your assumptions about Japanese companies and Japanese managers themselves. This essential work goes beyond stereotypes to offer truly new perspectives and insights on things Japanese in today's world of multinational business.

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From the Publisher:

ON-LINE INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

Could you tell us a little about your background?

"After a career in business, I became an academic in Australia in 1967. The research for my Ph.D. took me to Japan in 1970, when I came across my friend and former client in Australia, George Fields, who invited me to work during academic recesses for his research company in Tokyo. In 1973, I accepted an invitation as visiting professor at the Institute of International Studies and Training (IIST) in Shizuoka Prefecture, working there, and at Sophia University, until 1981, when I became professor of international business at Aoyama Gakuin University.

As an academic and consultant, I worked for many foreign and Japanese companies, and naturally many of my friends were non-Japanese working for Japanese companies. This experience made me aware of the complexities of workplace relationships. And of course, I worked for Japanese universities. That gave me insights into how Japanese organizations work, and what conflicts can occur with foreign staff. My consulting experience included 6 months as on-the-job trainer in a Japanese marketing research company, and consulting experience with a Japanese-owned bank in the United States, that was experiencing serious conflicts between its Japanese and American managers."

What motivated you to do this book? / What got you started?

"A number of books on the subject were published overseas, written by people with no experience or understanding of Japan, and were so full of errors, that I decided I had to put the case properly."

Could you tell us a little about the contents of the book?

"The bulk of the book is about the actual working conditions of foreigners in Japanese companies--both in Japan and abroad. It addresses questions like--are there special or discriminatory policies for foreigners? Can foreigners be promoted in Japanese companies? Can foreigners ever manage Japanese personnel? The answers to these questions are made by extensive verbatim quotations from the interviews I did, with foreign and Japanese personnel and managers in four countries.

An important section concerns how to handle cross-cultural conflicts within Japanese companies. Actually, there are no easy answers to these types of problems. They are profoundly serious problems, but have never been made public before."

What do you see as the centerpiece of the book? / Why is the book important?

"The book is important because it helps prospective employees of Japanese companies understand what they are getting into. No other book has done that."

What did you yourself learn while working on the book?

"I learnt how inept Japanese managers are at creating equitable and fair human resource management policies for foreign employees. The truth is that the problems are beyond them, because the problems will only be solved when the companies become global, and not Japanese. As long as they preserve their Japaneseness, they will have to discriminate against foreigners--to some degree. It is generally true that Japanese employees are too proud to take directions from foreigners."

What would you like readers to take away with them after reading this book?

"That a fairy story view of working for a Japanese company has no basis; that there is much to be learnt from working in a Japanese company, but for Caucasians there is no long-term future."

What people or books were influential in the creation of your book?

"The books I mentioned earlier which were totally misleading about the opportunities and conditions for Westerners in working for Japanese companies."

What are your plans for the future, in terms of new books or other projects?

"I am currently preparing a book called, Managing Business Relationships with Japan and China. It deals with the relationships between Westerners and Japanese (and Chinese as well) as members of separate companies. I am more interested in the challenges for foreigners who work with Japanese in strategic alliances, in joint ventures, and in customer-supplier relationships."

There is a new kind of 'soft' technology to learn as we deal with Asian parties in these kinds of relationships.

Is there anything else the reader should know?

"Please visit my website.

About the Author:

Robert M. March, Ph.D. has spent much of his adult life in Japan as a management consultant, author, and professor of international business at Aoyama Gakuin University, a leading private university in Tokyo. A recognized bilingual specialist on Japanese business, his recent consulting assignments concentrate on improving relations between Japanese expatriate managers and local staff. Author of over 100 books, articles, training videos, etc., including The Japanese Negotiator, Honoring the Customer, Reading the Japanese Mind, and Japan's Misunderstanding (in Japanese), Dr. March now resides in Sydney, Australia, where he is visiting professor of Japanese Business at the University of New South Wales. Dr. March also travels widely as a lecturer and seminar leader on doing business with the Japanese.

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March, Robert M.
Published by Kodansha Amer Inc (1992)
ISBN 10: 477001533X ISBN 13: 9784770015334
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