Kelly, Suzanne and Mark, (respectively, Canadian, British and Canadian citizens) are three Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) employed by the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) in Soto, Japan. The JET program was designed by the Japanese government to improve its English language education through the exchange of international teachers. This exchange would also foster an understanding at the municipal level of the importance and value of internationalization between different cultures. Any workplace problems the ALTs had could be resolved with the assistance of the Conference of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR). However, CLAIR could only be involved if the host institution could not resolve the problems itself. This case study follows the development of several conflicts between the Japanese and foreign workers.
This paper will identify the emotions experienced by all characters. Using tools and theories from emotional behaviour scholars, a subsequent exploration of the catalysts for such emotions will reveal underlying concerns of each participant. Lastly, this paper will address these concerns and propose recommendations for the resolution of current and future conflicts.
Before analyzing the case study, it is important to note that a comprehensive understanding of the characters’ emotions can enhance the analysis. Keith G. Allred, John S. Mallozzi, Fusaki Matsui and Christopher P. Raia, note that negotiation is an attempt between parties to manage conflict. If one considers that emotions are a prevalent component which induces conflict, then the authors’ theory that discreet emotions influence negotiation seems logical. Discreet emotions are invoked because social interaction directs thoughts, feelings and behaviours between each party. Given this theory, an analysis of the characters’ emotional experiences will reveal their concerns which induce such emotions. Once the concerns are identified one can critically address them and propose affective solutions.
Exhibit A (Cross Cultural Communication Model) illustrates the activities of encoding and decoding messages in the communication process which is infused with people’s cultural backgrounds and values. An additional problem occurs within this framework due to the complexity of the “three levels of uniqueness in human mental programming” as illustrated in Exhibit B. This diagram emphasizes the different factors that combine with culture and values which affect a person’s comprehension of the communicated message. Given that there are many cultural differences between the foreign Assistant Learning Teachers (ALTs) and the Japanese workers in the Soto office, as well as additional complexities given everyone’s different personalities, it seems logical to assume that cultural dissonance would be a fundamental problem between the two groups.
Culture impacts a person’s behaviour due to “norms” and “scripts”. Norms are formed through one’s common wisdom which represents their values that are formed by those of society. Scripts are the procedures that one should follow given a particular situation . For example, as regards the case study, the Japanese norm of committing oneself at a high level to one’s employer is demonstrated through the script of working more than the standard eight hour days (including weekends). In contrast, Kelly and the other ALTs rarely followed suit. The emotional impact on Kelly of this dissonance between the two work ethics was her surprise at the Japanese workers’ level of commitment to their jobs. To a North American professional, Kelly’s surprise seems normal given the fact that a highly valued principle among North American firms is to place a great deal of importance on a worker’s family life. Indeed, Kelly thought that the Japanese work ethic was “absurd” because working on the weekend...