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Seminar paper from the year 2010 in the subject Business economics - Business Management, Corporate Governance, grade: 1,3, Stuttgart Media University, course: Interkulturelles Management, language: English, abstract: From the moment we are born, our environment influences us in the way we think, act, and feel. Our parents and siblings, friends and superiors, even acquaintances and strangers teach us what is socially acceptable and expected behavior so that we are able to fit in with our peers, colleagues and fellow citizens. This “mental software” usually stays with us and evolves throughout our whole life, coloring our every word, thought, and action. It differs from our human nature and our personality in the way that it is neither genetically programmed into us, nor uniquely ours. We usually refer to it as ‘culture’.
According to Dutch researcher Geert Hofstede, culture is “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” Of course, we usually are part of many different groups at once – maybe we belong to a sports team or company, a confraternity or a club, a family or a special circle of friends – all of which have different values, rituals and expectations. This leads to “people usually carry[ing] several layers of mental programming within themselves, corresponding to different levels of culture.” However, while we join some groups voluntarily, we are born into others – like our family and nationality – and therefore cannot revoke our membership and the expectations that go with it. So while we voluntarily accept one culture’s rules and idiosyncrasies because we want to, we might accept another’s merely because they were drilled into us since we were children. By name, these differing dynamics can be referred to as national and organizational culture.
An extensive research project conducted by Hofstede in the 1970s, during which employees of a large multinational corporation in 64 countries were questioned, was supposed to reveal the intricacies of national culture. The following paper will first take a closer look at Hofstede’s 5D-model as a basis for understanding the cultural intricacies foreigners need to be aware of when dealing with other nations, in particular with the state of Japan. After shining light on the dimensions defined by Hofstede, those peculiarities of the Japanese culture that are of special importance when doing business with the nation, with an emphasis on major concepts of thinking and acting, as well as everyday behavioral tips, will be presented.