To make matters worse some managers who did not show support of the change or

To make matters worse some managers who did not show

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as fast as possible, and with limited communication as to why this change was necessary. To make matters worse, some managers who did not show support of the change or make any effort to improve their own English, sent the wrong message to subordinates and contributed to the problem. Based on Kotter’s (1995) Eight -Step Model, communicating the vision was a vital step in garnering employee buy-in, as the change effort was dependent on changing the behaviour of individual employees (Elving, 2005). Additionally, the outcomes of the “Englishnization” policy and implications for employees was poorly com municated. The only thing that employees were aware of was the possibility of demotion if they did not perform well on their English test within the next two years. As a consequence, the stress levels for non- English speaking employees were significantly higher (Neely, 2013), acting as an inhibitor to change implementation (Michie, 2002). 3.1.2. Timeframe of CCL Implementation In an effort to secure the implementation of a CCL, it is essential that the strategy is implemented as a long-term vision, and with feasible short-term goals, to reduce resistance to
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7 change (Swift & Wallace, 2011). Rakuten’s Chief Executive Officer, Mikitani, expected a quick organisation-wide transition of the corporate language, in which all employees were expected to adopt the “Englishnization” policy the very next day. Although Mikitani described this change as a company-wide long-term goal, he immediately started to speak only English and expected Rakuten employees to radically do the same, with the addition of expectations for his employees to score well on the language exam. The forced implementation of English as a CCL on a large-scale and in a short-time frame, affected employee morale and stress. While only ten percent of the organisation could function in English, the rest where under extreme pressure to learn the new language. 3.2. Differences in Intercultural Communication Another key problem Rakuten’s “Englishnization” faced was caused by differences in intercultural communication. Mikitani launched Englishnization to dismantle any cultural and linguistic barriers by using English as a CCL, however, he did not consider cross cultural differences and how the mandate would be perceived by the employees, ultimately leading to a resistance to change from the workforce. 3.2.1. Contextual Differences According to Hall's (1976) studies, cultures vary in the preferred style of communication, which can be divided into two groups, low context cultures (explicit) or high context cultures (implicit). It is observed in the Rakuten case that the Japanese workforces’ style of communication is characterized by what Hall (1976) would describe as an implicit form of communication. This is supported by Rakut en’s global information systems manager, who expresses how a Japanese statement could be interpreted differently from the English equivalent (Neeley, 2013). Misunderstandings and miscommunication may arise as how one may perceive a message based on whether the individual comes from a high context or low context culture (Beamer & Varner, 2001). Hall’s theory
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