East meets east : cross-cultural communication between Japanese managers and Thai subordinates Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/m613n264s

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  • This research mainly examines the superior-subordinate relationship between Japanese managers and Thai subordinates working in joint ventures in Thailand, especially the management style of the Japanese and the reactions of the Thais, Cultural adaptation of Japanese expatriates and Thai subordinates is also explored. Through this study, we gain better understanding of the Japanese-Thai interpersonal relationships, communication patterns, work ethics, and other cultural values with particular emphasis on recurring themes such as concepts about work, vertical relationship, authority and supervision style, and gender issues. The in-depth interviews were conducted with ten Japanese managers, six Thai managers, and 12 Thai subordinates in Thailand in 2001. Findings show that although there are some similarities in Japanese and Thai cultural values at work, conflicts, frictions, and misunderstandings still exist between Japanese superiors and Thai subordinates because of their cultural differences. Both parties also have some stereotypes and negative myths of the other party. Concerning concepts about work, Japanese superiors prefer immediate actions from their Thai subordinates when problems arise whereas when the Thais encounter some difficulties in solving problems, they hesitate to inform their superiors. Since there is no clear job description in Japan, the Thais often feel uncomfortable when their job responsibilities overlap with their colleagues. Moreover, unlike Japanese people, Thai employees do not have a strong commitment to the company. Vertical relationship explores how the Japanese and the Thais build and maintain their relationships at work and after work hours. The Japanese believe that relationships should follow job accomplishment while the Thais think that good relationships should be established before working. After-hour activities are suggested as means to strengthen relationships between superiors and subordinates. Furthermore, Japanese superiors tend to use different strategies to supervise their Thai subordinates; those strategies include scolding, expecting expression of opinions, information sharing, and delegation of authority in decision making processes. However, the strategies seem not to work properly in Japanese-Thai joint ventures due to cultural differences at work. Although gender can be a barrier in career advancement in Japan, Japanese expatriates do not see this as the case in Thailand. However, most of the Thai female subordinates complained that women were less likely to get promotions while Thai male subordinates thought that career advancement was blocked because managerial positions were occupied by and reserved for Japanese expatriates. At the end, three cases are presented to illustrate how Japanese superiors and Thai subordinates adjust in intercultural work settings. Each case consists of two individuals' work experience and adaptability. We can see the importance of individual differences as some Japanese superiors and Thai subordinates realize cultural differences and try to adjust to the intercultural work settings while others hold back and, finally, resign from the company. To avoid conflicts and misunderstandings, and to work together effectively, Japanese managers and Thai subordinates should realize their cultural differences and learn the other's culture. If problems arise, they should be open-minded and willing to help each other solve the problems.
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