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Japan vs. USA: cultures of enterprise compared

How do Japanese business work? What sort of culture underlies their success? Answering these questions could be important, particularly for business outside of Japan and especially if we are then able to compare Japanese culture with that of the West.

Exploring Japanese culture of enterprise is no easy task. We must first understand at least a little of how the Japanese see the world. This is what Ruth Wolf, out of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan (Israel), sought to do in her article entitled “Management Relations in the Work Culture in Japan as Compared to that of the West”, a study of Japanese firms that was recently published in the Innovative Journal of Business Management.

Wolf looked specifically at ICT firms in the country, but both her method of analysis and the results of her study may be applied to all businesses. Emphasis is placed on the particular management relations that come from an ancient tradition in which work is seen as a privilege and not only as an obligation. But that’s not all. According to the study, one of the most important principles in Japan is the “virtue of work”, i.e. that particular set of attentions, duties and privileges that makes the job, the company and the worker a special collective to be safeguarded and developed in addition to respected.

The Japanese approach to work, Wolf notes, also entails a great deal of attention to the needs of the employee. As the study states, “A company owner or manager in Japan generally sees himself as responsible for his employee […]. This is in contrast to the American outlook, for example, which holds great consideration for the interests of the company’s shareholders in order to maximize their profits.” In short, culture and history continue to contrast on opposite sides of the ocean, including when it comes to management philosophy.

Management relations in the work culture in Japan as compared to that of the westRuth Wolf

Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences and Economics Department, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, IsraelInnovative

Journal of Business and Management, Vol 2, No 5 (2013)

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