Japan American Culture Association th 2009 December 12
San Diego, the US
I. Discussion of Suggested Reading (Gesteland, Richard R. Cross Cultural Business
Behavior. Copenhagen Business School Press, 1999.)
In this article, Gesteland, Richard, a management trainer for international companies around the world, provides practical solution to the challenges people face in today’s global market. His target audience would be managers and negotiators who are responsible for company’s international duties. The author talks about important aspects of
cross-cultural business behavior in the international business, by addressing five cultural variables: “Great Divide” between Business cultures, Communication styles, Time orientation, and Non-verbal business behavior.
According to the author, there is a “Great Divide” in the business cultures. For example, “Deal-Focus vs. Relationship-Focus” would be the primary measure of separation
in the global business environment whereas Deal-focused people, found mainly in northern Europe, North America Australia and New Zealand, are fundamentally task-oriented while relationship-oriented people, found mostly in the Asia/Pacific region, are more people-oriented. The author says that such difference between the world’s culture influences the
way we conduct business from the beginning to the end of any commercial relationships.
“Deal-Focus vs. Relationship-Focus” business cultures also different in the way
they communicate. Managers on the deal-focused side tend to value direct, frank, and straightforward while those on the relationship-focus side often favor indirect, subtle, roundabout style. The author says that international negotiators must take the communication gap into consideration since it perhaps is the largest single source of misunderstandings and confusion during communication process. Especially for those Western companies expanding business over China, a relationship-focused country with low context communication culture, should take care in a great extent when conducting business deals.
For non-verbal business behavior, international managers should be alert in cultural barriers such as Status, Gender, Age, Hierarchies, Power and Respect. Today, women in International business are increasing in a great extent; however, males in the countries like South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia are traditionally accorded higher status in the business world than females and such the gender barrier unquestionably exists today in hierarchal cultures. Regarding time orientation, one of the crucial problems in doing business internationally is that contrasting conceptions of time and scheduling cause conflicts. When looking at Europe, the meaning of punctuality varies whether you are located in the northern or southern part of the continent.
Although there are number of potential variables such as the differences of nonverbal language gestures around the world, the five key variables that Gesteland provides could be utilized as “The Tool Box” for those needs solution to the cross-cultural
challenges facing today’s global marketplace. There is no such thing as right or wrong about culture. Rather, it is matter of whether possessing the knowledge of cross-cultural business behavioral patterns differentials. The main message from the this article is that international managers and negotiators must be prepared for the cross-cultural business behavior as global companies expand their global business activities including traveling abroad, negotiate a joint venture agreement, an acquisition or a strategic alliance. II. Description of my Job
I spent 150 hours in a Japanese-owned firm in San Diego called “Japan American
Culture Association” short for “JACA,” as my internship because of its tremendous
potential for expansion and its professional atmosphere. JACA is established in 1979 in Torrance California to help cultural exchange between Japan and US. It is a Human Resource Consulting firm that provides several opportunities for young people to experience American culture. Target market is Japanese people with work experience mostly age ranges from twenty-five to thirty who seek further career enhancement in an international business field as a professional by acquiring internship position in the United States. Clients are not only those job seekers in Japan, but also the US companies who seek to temporarily hire those internship students either with salary or without salary.
Specifically, It is a very focused market with many challenging tasks. Conducting marketing research, JACA provides service with specific knowledge about government regulation of the US immigration law and J1-VISA, which is a type of VISA allowing foreigners to work as temporary workers and to stay in the United States up to eighteen months for the purpose of providing cross-cultural working environment in the US. With the cumulative knowledge on the specific area, JACA contributes to development of Japanese-owned companies in the US by distributing global workers.
As an internship student, I was responsible for performing several important tasks that is highly involved in the firm’s profitability. At first, I learned about HR management
that provides overall solution to support clients. Prior to conducting any of the jobs, I studied general background of J1 VISA application so that I can support job seekers and US companies regarding the issue of J1 visa. Simultaneously, I learned how to manage those clients efficiently by acknowledging the whole process until a job seeker legally acquires a desired internship position with US Company. The process includes several making sure the job seekers have satisfied necessary criteria to meet for visa application, managing all the submitted paper works including DS2019 for government use which is important in changing job seeker’s visa status, offering an appropriate insurance for those
successfully obtain internships, also contacting an immigrant lawyer to make sure governmental regulation regarding specific visa issues.
My daily tasks starts from checking emails from clients including internship candidates and company’s HR managers to review current situation up to now so that I can prepare to respond to any tasks from my supervisor. For those who sign up for the JACA’s
service from Japan, I first check whether he or she has required criteria to obtain J1 visa. If they satisfy the requirements, I check their resumes ensuring it successfully demonstrate their knowledge and work experience since it is required to maintain professional candidates as much as possible. For those searching job, I provide guidance and assistance to help them creating successful career development plan by introducing various kinds of industries that are relevant to their previous work experiences and future career goals. Once the candidates find their preferable company, I contact the HR manager of the company and introduce the candidates by sending resume and informing his or her preferable position in the company.
Besides the working tasks I regularly manage, I have also conducted several marketing research by utilizing company’s resources. From a survey of the current candidate’s most demanding business field, I conduct market research especially for the Japanese-owned companies in New York and California. Once I find a suitable company, I contact to the corporate representative in HR department of the firm to explain our business activities and services by informing that we provide support for overall visa regulations, and that we maintain candidates who have professional experiences in the particular field. By conducting the marketing research, I could expand the business activities for JACA. III. Application of my Major
The 150 hours of internship experience in service industry has enhanced my learning process as International business major in a great extent, reflecting my international learning goals. Business courses that are relevant to my internship includes “Global Marketing Strategy,” “International Business 498, Doing Business Internationally,”
“Management and Organizational Behavior,” and “Ethical Decision Making in Business.” Those four business courses have reflected actively on my goals I had initially set up prior to the internship. My internship help improve gaining knowledge of the relevant business courses though practical business duties.
Specifically, the course of “Global Marketing Strategy” applied to practical marketing activities in the internship. In the course, I learned how to penetrate countries that have potential target market utilizing four country factors such as Political, Legal, Economical, and Cultural factors. Since my marketing activities in the internship include widening market opportunities in Japan, my knowledge of the global penetration strategies from the course have contributed in the great extent.
In the class of “International Business 498, Doing Business Internationally,” I
learned cross-cultural business ethics by researching specific cultural norms, and behavior. JACA has number of business activities that are highly involved with the cross-cultural business. For example, I had to adapt to a particular communication styles and nonverbal business behavior in doing business with Japanese companies. Not only the course, but also the read material discussing cross-cultural business became a useful guide in my cross-cultural business activities in JACA.
With the course of “Management and Organizational Behavior,” I acquired broad understandings of overall management system in the United States such as topics concerning corporate cultures, board of directors, shareholders, and employees by discussing how employee and leadership should act in the firm. The knowledge of business structures and vertical relationship between supervisors and employees helped me behave according to JACA’s specific corporate culture and manage tasks as an appropriate and professional organizational member of the firm.
The course of “Ethical Decision Making in Business” provided general climates regarding business ethics in a corporation. The knowledge of business ethics helped me directing to the right direction toward most ethical decisions For example, it helped preventing from making unwanted decisions for the company when I don’t have an access to my supervisor’s suggestions. The general knowledge of business ethics would guide
people to behave ethically when the issue is complicated.
IV. The Student Intern’s Role
In order to successfully conduct assigned jobs as Internship student, it would be useful to have a broad skill in research, efficient use of personal computer, business communication. I believe those skills are beneficial to any service industries worldwide. In addition to the general skills, it would be necessary to develop a reliable relationship with a direct supervisor because strong relationship with supervisor gives positive stimulation and incentives for motivation. Combining the educational background including analytical reading skill and professional writing skill, personal characteristics also plays important role in aiming to work as professional in the service industry. It would also provide internship students creative solutions to uncertain and in experienced business duties. Thus, establishing desirable relationship with the direct supervisor could be one of the important skills from personal characteristics since it would help further improvement for the future performance.
Throughout the internship, I could develop certain professional skills such as oral communication skills in a business environment called “Keigo,” a business communication
strategy by utilizing appropriate vocabularies in the office or in any business communication environment, written communication skills using “Keigo,” computer skills
that would bring efficiency to my assigned job, market research skills that would contribute company by bringing in more potential customers, and problem-solving skills that would benefit me as time saving advantage. Not only I could develop those skills, my internship enhanced my ability to self-manage my work output, ability to use second language in business situations and ability to adapt to situation cultural difference of my own.
Overall, I believe the experience with my internship can lead to professionalism in making an independent decision. Besides being responsible for assigned works, I could find a valuable strength in the service business field. Also, Internship contributes my career objective that is to be able to work as a professional in the field of service business. Although the skills and relationship building skill I could earn was beneficial for me, one of the most valuable assets I earned though the internship is that I could prepare for working in the related field in terms of working mentality.
V. Career Potential in this Field
Internship with JACA combines perfectly with my interest in my long-term career goal career achievement I admire by developing a successful career path. The experience gave me an opportunity to have practical business knowledge that I would be able to use in the future career. Though all the elements of the beneficial experience, I could not only realize the various exciting possibilities in international business, but also I could finish with a new sense of my professional self which is beneficial for my enthusiasm for career development. Compare to the time I haven’t started to do internship, I have more practical business strategies as well as specific information regarding Visa-issuing business right now. However, I believe that JACA will possess more and more job seekers from Japan as well as more job openings that welcome internship students in the United States in the near future.
Although I chose a particular work environment in a small entrepreneurial office with Japanese culture-oriented atmosphere, I believe the time and efforts I spent for this company would be one of the most successful investments I have made and it would become my valuable assets to take with me on my job research and perhaps even more. Internship is not only a chance of skill advancement, but also help formulate a career dream by successfully entering the global corporate arena and enlarge the possibility to conduct a large foreign assignment in the near future.
In conclusion, there are several things I can advice to other students who are interested in obtaining a job in this particular field based on my experience. From global marketing perspective, JACA has already developed its fundamental business structure; however, it is always encouraged to conduct research and deepen the knowledge of target market by trying to maintain the company’s resources new. Because I believe the marketing research is important for most of the service industries, I would strongly recommend doing internship with service industry to create ways to broader skills. To be well prepared for service industries, it would be necessary to catch up with technical skills on information technology and the skills earned through degrees and most importantly, from trainings as an internship.