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7 values across cultures ben jerrys wwwbenjerrycom it

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Unformatted text preview: it would appear that people choose occupations that correspond to their values.7 Values Across Cultures Ben & Jerry’s www.benjerry.com It is by now a cliché to observe that business has become global in its scope—Ben & Jerry’s goes to Russia; Japanese cars dot North American roads; Mickey Mouse invades Japan and France; McDonald’s opens in Moscow; Europe reduces internal trade barriers. All this activity obscures just how difficult it can be to forge business links across cultures. For example, research shows that anywhere from 16 to 40 percent of managers who receive foreign assignments terminate them early because they perform poorly or do not adjust to the culture.8 Similarly, a lengthy history of failed business negotiations is attributable to a lack of understanding of cross-cultural differences. At the root of many of these problems might be a lack of appreciation of basic differences in work-related values across cultures. On the other hand, consider the opportunities for organizations that are globally adept (and for graduating students who are cross-culturally sensitive!). Work Centrality. Work itself is valued differently across cultures. One largescale survey of over 8,000 individuals in several nations found marked crossnational differences in the extent to which people perceived work as a central life interest.9 Japan topped the list, with very high work centrality. Belgians and Chapter 4 103 Values, Attitudes, and Work Behaviour In Japan, socializing with colleagues is often part of the job, reflecting the high centrality of work in Japanese values. Americans exhibited average work centrality; the British scored low. One question in the survey asked respondents whether they would continue working if they won a large amount of money in a lottery. Those with more central interest in work were more likely to report that they would continue working despite the new-found wealth. The survey also found that people for whom work was a central life interest tended to work more hours. A reflection of this can be seen in Exhibit 4.1, which shows great variation in vacation time across cultures. This illustrates how crosscultural differences in work centrality can lead to adjustment problems for foreign employees and managers. Imagine the unprepared British executive who is posted to Japan only to find that Japanese managers commonly work late and then socialize with co-workers or customers long into the night. In Japan, this is all part of the job, often to the chagrin of the lonely spouse. On the other hand, consider the Japanese executive posted to Britain who finds out that an evening at the pub is not viewed as an extension of the day at the office and not a place to continue talking business. For more on Japanese work values, see “Global Focus: Government Urges Japanese to Work Less, Have Babies.” Exhibit 4.1 Vacation time across cultures. 45 35 Source: World Tourism Organization (WTO) as cited in Travel industry Association of America (2002). World Tourism Overview. Retrieved July 18, 2003, from http://www.tia.org/ ivis/worldtourism.asp#vacation. 30 25 20 15 10 5 U SA Ja pa n Ki ng do m Ca na da Ko re a Br az il U ni te d ly Fr an ce G er m an y 0 Ita Average number of days 40 104 Individual Behaviour Part Two Government Urges Japanese to Work Less, Have Babies He enjoys his freedom, staying out late and drinking with friends. She’s a company woman, bent on building a career before a family. Both are too busy to even think about marriage, let alone kids. And that’s becoming a big problem, the Japanese government says. Alarmed by the portrait statistics paint of an increasing proportion of Japan’s 20- and 30somethings, the government released a report recently recommending a “structural reform in lifestyle” and urging young Japanese to work less and have more babies. The nation’s plunging birth rate is the root of the trouble. As the workforce continues to shrink, covering the health and retirement costs of the greying population is one of the government’s biggest challenges. The Lifestyle White Paper report, commissioned by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s office, explored ways of boosting the birth rate by making married life with children more attractive to a younger generation. Among the report’s findings was that marriage and child-rearing were shunned as sources of fulfillment by about 52 percent of the country’s young women and 40 percent of its young men. It proposed tackling such attitudes with “lifestyle structural reforms,” a nod to the structural overhaul Mr. Koizumi also is proposing to rescue Japan’s ailing economy. The goal would be to free people from Japan’s corporate grind of 18-hour work days and mandatory drinks with the boss so they can better balance family life and career. “Wrestling with this is an important part of dealing with the serious problem of stagnating childbirth,” the report said. Among the report’s recommendations were implementing policies that reduce working hours, increase free time for the family, and improve access to child care. The high cost of raising and educating children, demanding jobs, and climbing divorce rates...
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