Japanese Org. Culture Organizational Culture Japanese culture is very different from ours. For one thing, it consists almost entirely of Japanese people. (Barry, 43) Perhaps that seems an obvious statement, but how true it is. The culture of any business, organization, or even government is made up of the people that make the organization. Throughout this paper we will use the culture of the Japanese government as a medium, to see how culture affects the management and decision-making processes.
Specifically we will look at how the culture affected the decisions of the government, and how those decisions affected the very lives of the Japanese people on a very dreadful day just over six years ago. A 20-second earthquake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale, devastated the city of Kobe, Japan on the morning of January 17th, 1995. Many were still sleeping at 5:46 when the earthquake struck, but they would soon awaken to find great frustration as the lack of public and personal transportation, communication lines, and open roads became increasingly apparent. Indeed, Japan’s 6th largest city was facing a problem, and one that needed to be addressed immediately. (Adamson, par 1) q Is America an Autocracy? You have probably read in a newspaper, or watched on television a documentary about a natural disaster on American soil. It could be anything from an East-coast hurricane, to a Mid-west tornado, to a California earthquake. Typically, by the time you are just hearing about the event, the President of the United States will have already declared a state of emergency.
Local and national armed forces are immediately dispatched to help assist in any way possible. The way that the President took the information available at the time, and promptly made the decision reflects an autocratic leadership style, as defined by Dessler. (301) Why wasn’t there a session of congress held to determine if it was really necessary to declare the emergency? Why weren’t the citizens allowed to vote whether or not they deemed it wise spending of their tax-dollars? The President of the United States (obviously, by his title) has the authority to make decisions that affect the United States. Our culture allows him to have the power that he does, whether he is backed by congress or not. We allow him to declare a state of emergency because our culture defines a state of emergency as a problem that needs to be fixed.
We do not define it as an international embarrassment, nor do we define it as an internal breakdown of part of our society. q Culturally defining the problem? The Japanese government happened to define their problem a little differently. They looked at the disaster as a weak link to their strong nation. They were embarrassed and unwilling to accept help from foreign nations who readily offered. As a matter of fact, due to cultural boundaries, response time to this whole disaster was so bad that it took over 5 years to finally fix all the damage.
There was no immediate response when the quake subsided. Four hours passed before the governor of the Hyogo Prefecture asked for help from the Japanese Defense forces. It took the JDF another 5 hours to respond and a full two days before they arrived in Kobe in force. Japanese Prime minister Tomiichi Murayama all but confessed that a lack of preparedness and bureaucratic bungling significantly delayed recovery efforts. Teams of doctors arrived only to be held up at the airport for three days because they did sot have the necessary license to practice in Japan. It took 2 days to get necessary permission to have 50,000 blankets shipped in from the United States.
Of the 60 nations that offered assistance to the Japanese government, only 20 offers were accepted.(Nevola, par. 5) q All in favor Perhaps a closer look at the leadership style implemented would help explain why the reaction time was so bad. Most social, moral, and governmental standards are based around conformity. It was understood by foreigners living in the country, that meeting scheduling was apparently a great process that slowed everything. Unconfirmed reports state the before any issues directly related to the earthquake were resolved, absolute conformity had to be reached as pertaining to when the committee would be able to meet again, and the number one item of every agenda was the same.
The leadership style where information is presented to the group and then they decide together on a solution is an extreme degree of the participative style. Maybe a more autocratic leadership would have worked better to solve the problem at hand. Dr. Neil Chadwick points out 3 directly related situations in which the Autocratic Leadership is successful. When there is an agreement that the leader has the resources and the Group is limited There is a time pressure or Crisis The Group’s resistance toward the leader is minimal Unfortunately, changing the leadership style in this crisis situation may have actually made things worse. Japan tends to view the committee-oriented leadership styles, and even has the old proverb that ‘the nail that stands up gets pounded down. Autocracy may have resulted in hurt feelings, resentment, internal government breakdown, or worse.
We must bear in mind the culture of an organization before we jump to conclusions as to which leadership style will work best. Culture is something that can drive a business to success, when diverse, non-biased, and properly managed. Yes, at times it can act as a barrier, but more often than not it is the bridge that crosses over those boundaries. Organizations need to learn that if they don’t tap into those sources, then they are like a horse wearing blinders. They will coast along comfortably and happily, completely unaware of the disasters coming at it directly from the sides. Business Reports.