How Far Can Business Methods Developed In One Country Be Applied In A Totally Different Country? Illustrate Your Answer With Reference To The Application Of Japanese Business Methods.

The question states the transferability of business methods from one country to another, via Japanese techniques. However, in order to answer, we must define the term culture, as the term culture encompasses business methods, i.e. in order to adopt foreign business methods we must adopt its culture. In Needle\'s (1994) definition of culture he states, "A particular interest in business is the extent to which we can learn from the business experiences of other cultures and transplant ideas d eveloped by businesses in one culture and use then in a totally different setting."

A major implication of the work of Hofstede (1980) and Trompenaars (1994) and other contributors to the knowledge about international culture and management is that "cultural interpretation and adaptation" are a necessary prerequisite to the comparative understanding of national and international management practice.

Hofstede suggests that while \'hard - nosed\' (short termist, task/result orientated) American or Anglo-Saxon approachs to business management may work well in Chicago, they may be counterproductive in Japan.

More specifically, the procedure of international cultural adaptation may be applied to the three following areas: 1. Motivation theories, 2. Leadership concepts,
3. Management by Objectives (MBO)

The three areas are described by Hofstede as symptomatic of the issue at hand. Hofstede states that "not only organisations are culture bound; theories about organisations are equally culture bound." Morden (1993) comments "There is no guarantee, therefore, that theories and concepts developed within the cultural context of one country can with good effect be applied in another. This implies that it is not possible for such theories to be \'universally valid\'."

In the UK, interest has been awakened by the considerable investment in the economy by major Japanese firms, who have entered certain key industries, such as motor manufacturing and electronics. Whilst taking advantage of investment incentives offered by the British Government, and the range of skills offered by British workers, these Japanese companies (e.g. Toyota, Honda, Panasonic, etc.) have also introduced several of their own personnel and production practices. These have been adapted to achieve the acceptance of the managers and workers concerned, especially in relation to production methods, quality control and management worker attitudes. A comparison between east and west industrial environments can simply illustrate culture differences., In particular, Britain versus Japan. Nevertheless, a number of Japanese management practices have been adopted very successfully in a British context (e.g. Nissan).

One of the important general difference between Japanese and British companies lies in the way they are funded. For example, in Japan, there is much reliance on shareholders for the funding of business. Instead the major banks play the greater role in providing funds. One result of this is that the Board of Directors is more powerful than the shareholders\' meeting. The Board determines the long term strategy of the company, appointing an Executive Board made up of senior direcors, which concentrates on short-term, operational issues. Most Japanaes directors have line responsibilities, and this gives the Executive Board a strong production emphais.

A second difference is that the trade unions in Japan are company based rather than occupationally based, as in Britain. The company based approach to trade union organisation is a reflection of a unitary attitude towards employee relations. Thus, employees are only able to join their company union, whose primary aim will be to achieve lifetime job security for its members, and ensure, in collaboration with the management, the success and efficiency of the company, upon which everyone depends. This contrasts strongly with British trade unions, for example, where the emphasis is clearly on protecting and promoting the members interests, although naturally this in practice implies support for the employment opportunities offered by the business concerned.

A third difference is that personnel policies in Japanese firms are based on a number of specific assumptions, which have to be seen against a background of loyalty to the company, and identification with its products and ultimate success. Cole (1996) describes it as, "a strong adherence to company culture." He exerts the key assumptions that lie at the root of Japanese employee relations are as follows:

- the workforce will be composed of a core labour force