Company culture lost in translation

Company culture lost in translation - Managing A Firm's...

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Managing A Firm's Culture Can Get Lost in Translation By PHRED DVORAK April 3, 2006; Page B1 TORONTO -- Three times a week, staffers at the Canadian unit of Japanese videogame maker Koei Co. begin the day by standing next to their desks and facing their boss, Hidenori Taniguchi. "Good morning, everyone," says Mr. Taniguchi. "Good morning," chant Koei Canada's 30-odd employees. That greeting ushers in a peculiar corporate ritual Koei has imported from Japan -- morning meetings where employees deliver short speeches. The subjects can be anything from management talking about corporate principles to employees discussing 3D game engines. In Japan, such meetings, which are a common practice, are called "chorei." Some of Koei Canada's programmers, however, feel the sessions are like show-and-tell. "It's kind of like school," says Samson Chan, Koei Canada's lead creator, who recently gave a presentation on family-oriented videogames. Mr. Chan says he thinks chorei can help improve communication -- as long as staffers don't view them as a joke. That is the kind of dissonance Koei and other multinational companies must confront as they struggle to blend their home cultures with local work forces. Trying to figure out how, or whether, to export corporate culture is an increasingly common issue as firms derive more revenue or production from abroad. Many companies struggle to get it right. International Business Machines Corp., for example, won a strong following in Japan in the 1980s by tailoring sales practices and products to the Japanese market. Among other steps, IBM designed computers that could process the Chinese characters used in written Japanese. But the computer giant sparked controversy in France in 2002 when labor groups objected to an employee-assessment system being introduced world-wide. IBM says the groups misunderstood the system, and opposition eventually fizzled out. Understanding the local market is key. Consulting firm Bain & Co. says only one-third of
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This note was uploaded on 01/22/2011 for the course MSOM 303 taught by Professor Philpot during the Winter '10 term at George Mason.

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Company culture lost in translation - Managing A Firm's...

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