Japanese Teams

The Japanese do not really undertake training sessions on teambuilding — they are naturally group-oriented which underlies the need for a truly consensus approach to issues.

The consensus-building process or nemawashi (literally root binding) determines that agreement is sought before a formal meeting in order to avoid any direct confrontation. Thus arriving at a meeting expecting issues to be thrashed out in a direct and forthright manner will almost always lead to disappointment.

It is also important that group members maintain face in front of other group members, which amongst other things means that people must be seen to be modest and humble. Self-promotion in the western sense is seen as childish and embarrassing behaviour.

The group or groups to which a person belongs are a life-defining set of relationships and the importance of these group relationships should never be underestimated. Therefore, Japanese businessmen (and women) will often socialise in teams after work. Dinner and drinks are an important work and social function and should be encouraged.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Japan

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

Japan – a decades old paradox. Ultimately modern; completely traditional.

It has perplexed observers for decades as to how Japan can be so advanced in terms of technology and infrastructure whilst at the same time being wedded to traditional cultural approaches to all things corporate. Japanese companies are at the same time innovative and disruptive whilst retaining strong alignment to traditional hierarchical structures, risk aversion and detail obsession. How does Japan retain its position in the global economic league tables when it seems to stubbornly refuses to move with the latest corporate thinking?

The question continues to be asked as to whether it is really possible to do business in Japan as a foreign entity or are things so weighted against foreign entrants that it really isn’t worth the effort. The answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’ as many companies have entered the Japanese market and had great success. However, many companies have also failed to crack the Japanese market.

So what is the key to doing business in Japan in a successful and sustainable manner? At Global Business Culture we strongly believe that understanding Japanese business culture is the key to success. How can Japan be innovative and traditional? The answer is ‘culture’. How can Japanese companies retain strong alignment to hierarchy and remain efficient? The answer is ‘culture’.

Looking at Japanese business culture is not a ‘nice to do’ it’s a definite ‘need to do’. Take the time to really understand the key drivers of your Japanese colleagues, clients and other stakeholder and you will find the benefits obvious and immediate.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Japanese business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips