Nemawashi

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(a)
“Nemawashi” is an agricultural metaphor. The idea is that before a farmer plants a seed, he should prepare the roots and the soil, so that the seed has the best chance of survival. It is a political process by which an unofficial understanding is reached before a final decision is made on a particular matter. “Nemawashi” is Bottom-up style decision making (middle management has the greatest influence on decision making). The Japanese are primarily concerned with harmoniously working out problems without causing interpersonal frictions, such nemawashi is employed as simply informal lobbying to gain consensus before action. A complete consensus is essential and this is achieved by using the process of “ringi”. Everyone stamped his chop on a piece of paper called “ringsho”, a formal meeting can be called to discuss the issue very formally. No one usually says anything negative at this meeting. Why?, this is largely due to the extensive preparation involving a lot of meetings before the final meeting. While vertical US system is top-down decision making, downward communication consists primarily of orders for implementation, and upward communication consist of reports on performance and accomplishment. Top management come up with programmed decisions, employees are to follow through. Nemawashi promotes Democracy for lower levels, encourages greater participation, decisions are met with general acceptance and it reinforces harmony within the company. Because an excessive number of meetings are held, involving an excessive number of people, the process is time consuming and can lead to lost business opportunities. Situation: Company worker identified a potential new client. Process: Important account information and an outline of potential benefit from acquiring the client is composed using a ringsho. This is passed to various departments to determine if the potential client matches each department requirement. For example finance/accounting (for credit worthiness), to distribution (for logical support) and to public relations (for appropriateness of associating with the new client) Situation: A decision concerning financial commitment is needed. Process: A ringisho is composed with various financial alternatives. Based upon the financial requirement, the ringsho is circulated to the appropriate managerial levels. For example Chairman, the president, vice president, senior management group and, to divisional managers. The process permits initiative from lower level managers by giving them responsibility for carrying out action. It gives top management control while providing a method for group participation. Drawback may include inadequate overall knowledge of the company by the lower-level manager to make effective decision. The inability to make spontaneous decision can inhibit long-range planning. The organizational culture may compel individual group member to accept the final decision, even if they disagree. (b)

Understanding the difference between the two cultures’ nonverbal communication system is necessary for a successful business transactions. Japanese business meeting etiquette must also be religiously respected. These will go a long way to decrease intercultural communication apprehension on both sides. Several symbols represent words or expressions to the Japanese that must be conveyed verbally in other countries. For Americans or Canadians to be successful with the Japanese, we must learn how to comprehend the significance of important traditions: e.g. Japanese bow, business card exchange, different meaning of eye contact, facial expressions, and typical Japanese body gestures, tactile aspects, and time concepts. Qi Concepts Limited offers cross-cultural communication seminars, one-on one coaching for key executives and business “hotline” services. At the beginning of the meeting, it is expected that foreigners greet fellow Japanese business people with respect and earnestness. Although the customary...
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