Researching National Cultures: a comparison of Japanese and
Australian national cultures
In an increasingly global world, people will inevitably find themselves working within and across cultures. The national culture in which a person identifies with and is immersed in, has been proven to have a profound impact on an individual’s values and behaviours, this in-turn impacts on understanding of other . An ability to discern and understand potential variances in culture, without adopting blanket stereotypes is therefore a critical tool for any organisation, manager or marketer (Taras et al., 2011). The purpose of this current report is to compare and contrast three core cultural dimensions between Japanese and Australian national cultures. The focus on these two national cultures is particularly pertinent with the recent important economic links through a $35 billion development of the LNG processing facilities in Darwin by the Japanese company INPEX (Tlozek, 2012).
This report establishes a concept of culture which recognises the dynamic exchange of values, understanding and behaviours within a culture. The theoretical frameworks of Hofstede (1980) and Trompenaars (1993) are presented and an amalgamation of these frameworks is offered as a tool to analyse the national cultures of Japan and Australia. Specific points for comparison are the 1) approaches to power distribution, 2) approaches to social relationships and 3) approaches to uncertainty and social control. Further, possible implications with a focus on the Australian and Japanese cross-cultural organisation context are discussed throughout the report.
Concepts of Culture
The culture of a society can be defined as “the shared values, beliefs, understanding, assumptions and behaviour patterns of the population within a society.” PRBM016 Study Pack, pg. 14. Although this definition provides a good basis for discussing concepts of culture, it alone is not able to provide in-depth understanding of the complexities and dynamics of culture and its various interpretations and meanings. In an effort to convey a concept of culture, Geertz (1973b, p. 5) writes,
“ [M]an is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be… an interpretive one in search of meaning.” (Geertz, 1973b, p. 5)
This metaphor describes the making of culture and perhaps points to the notion that human beings contribute to the creation of culture in an effort to create purpose and identities. Geertz also asserts that analysis of culture may bring about an interpretation on assigned meaning. Furthermore, understanding the make-up of culture requires more than the knowledge of individual elements. Geertz (1973a, p. 50) paints a vivid picture using an analogy of Chartres cathedral; “Chartres is made of stone and glass. But it is not just stone and glass; it is a cathedral, and not only a cathedral, but a particular cathedral built at a particular time by certain members of a particular society. To understand what it means, to perceive it for what it is, you need to know rather more than the generic properties of stone and glass and rather more than what is common to all cathedrals. You need to understand also-and, in my opinion, most critically-the specific concepts of the relations among God, man, and architecture that, since they have governed its creation, it consequently embodies. It is no different with men: they, too, every last one of them, are cultural artefacts.”
Theoretical Frameworks of Cultural Dimensions
The demand for a greater understanding of national cultural differences grew out of the post-war development of business and economic relationships between the United States of America and Japan (Taras et al., 2011, p. 189). Managers, finding that their styles did not necessarily translate across borders, looked to researchers to explain the differences (Hiroko, 2009, p. 4). Much of the...
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