04 Akihisa Kumayama

04 Akihisa Kumayama - INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION STUDIES...

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INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION STUDIES I:1:1991 51 JAPANESE/AMERICAN CROSS-CULTURAL BUSINESS NEGOTIATIONS Akihisa Kumayama American Graduate School of International Management INTRODUCTION When negotiating with Japanese business people, American business people sometimes feel uncomfortable, puzzled, lost, irritated and the like, based on some unfamiliar customs and behaviors demonstrated by the Japanese business people. Nothing is more comfortable and secure than understanding the cross-cultural aspect. Understanding can facilitate communication and avoid misunderstanding. Understanding then can also make the Japanese business people feel comfortable. This also enhances business negotiations. When it comes to dealing with the Japanese business people, they negotiate with the American business people, bringing their own cultural background. In many cases, what may be considered to be acceptable by American standards may be unacceptable to the Japanese. Japanese and American cultures doe not seem to have many things in common. At the same time, no Japanese would give American business people a single clue. informing them that what they have done might not have been acceptable. Although minor mistakes are permissible, misunderstandings and failure to recognize important cultural subtleties may lead to stagnation or dismissal of the negotiations. In reference to the cross-cultural aspect, more strict rules must be observed for the Japanese culture than for the American culture. In this paper, many cross-culturally related areas in business negotiations are discussed. They are gift exchange in negotiations, values, exchanging business cards, and the like.
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INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION STUDIES I:1:1991 52 Naturally, these cross cultural areas are not the entire core of the cross cultural business negotiation. However, the initial understanding of the Japanese cross cultural business negotiations may be a good start. BUSINESS PRACTICE AND CUSTOMS In this section, three areas are discussed: (a) business suits, (b) business card exchange, and (c) gift exchange ( temiyage ). Many Japanese businessmen tend to wear dark suits of navy blue, dark gray or brown. They consider these colors to be acceptable at business meetings, for working in the company, for meeting their client, and the like. The suits and neckties that they wear are quite conservative. A Japanese businessman usually fastens the high button of his suit when he comes into a room to meet with his American counterpart to discuss possible business negotiations. Based on Japanese business practice, it is common for a Japanese businessman to fasten that button before he greets his partner for the first time or when he talks to a superior or an older person, while standing. However, it is permissible for him to unbutton it while he is sitting in a chair. If his superior or a client comes in to introduce him to another person while he is seated, it is also a common practice for him to fasten the higher button first and to stand up in order to talk to them. Business Card Exchange
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04 Akihisa Kumayama - INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION STUDIES...

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