Japan and Asia: Oceans Apart

It is a common perception that since Japan is in Asia, it should be culturally closer to Asian economies like China and the four tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan) than Western countries in Europe and the USA. However, research in the area of cultural values suggests that this is not the case. In fact, Japan is found to be more culturally dissimilar to Asian countries than are the USA and European countries. Based on the well-known cultural dimensions articulated in Geert Hofstede’s Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations, the masculinity index of Japan is 95. Singapore and Hong Kong’s masculinity scores are 48 and 57 respectively while those of the UK and the USA are 66 and 62. The masculinity index focuses on the degree to which a society reinforces the traditional masculinity work role model of male achievement, control and power. A high masculinity index for Japan indicates a high degree of gender differentiation. In such a culture, males dominate a significant portion of society and its power structure, with females being controlled by male domination. In Singapore and Hong Kong, this is not the case.

In addition, the uncertainty avoidance scores of the UK and the USA are 35 and 46, once again in between Japan (92) and Singapore (8) and Hong Kong (29). Uncertainty avoidance index focuses on the level of tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity in a society. A high uncertainty avoidance index indicates that Japan has a low tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. This creates a rule-oriented society that institutes laws, rules, regulations and controls in order to reduce the incidence of uncertainty. Thus, Japanese culture encourages less risk-taking while in Singapore and Hong Kong, risk-taking is almost mundane.

While culturally distinctive, Japanese culture and business practices are perceived to be closer to those of South Korea than to China and other Chinese-dominated countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Relationship building is a key element of business transactions in Japan. To be able to join an existing network is especially important for companies trying to conduct businesses in apan or trading with Japanese companies. Reciprocity in relations and saving and maintaining the “face” of Japanese counterparts are priorities fo sustaining relationships. The high uncertainty avoidance index suggests that when dealing with Japanese companies, it is important to show one’s commitment to a plan of joint action.

For more information, refer to Fundamentals of International Business: 1st Asia-Pacific edition by Michael Czinkota et al. 

Conference Discussion: Transpacific Trade Agreement (TPP)

Ambassador Cuisia of the Philippines anticipates the ongoing rise of Asia. The Philippines are experiencing growth rates of over 6%, and even so ranks only third in Asia. He sees the TPP as bringing a new trade architecture to the world, drawing a line down the middle of the Pacific, and accelerating the dynamics of the Asian marketplace. Due to new strength in Asia, Mr. Cuisia forecast the beginning of a new “Roman Peace” with new allies and alliances forming a counterweight to the current “heavy hitters” in trade. His key message was that the Philippines want to become part of the emerging TPP.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia (Philippine Embassy Photo by Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez)

Jack Jan, chairman of the Taiwan-U.S. Commercial Forum reiterated the desire of Taiwan to join in with the TPP. That way, Taiwan could offer even more opportunities as a bridge to China. However, in spite of such a desire to join, he warned against the effects of too onerous a cost.

Skip Jones, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce explained that a TPP would greatly enhance and strengthen the role of Asia as a member of supply chains, global channels and technology. He believes that countries will be able to join the TPP, as long as they don’t break the effort or slow down progress. However, as he colorfully put it: “those who join late get bit by the dog.”

Weekly News – APEC Ministerial Conference on September 5

APEC Ministerial Conference took place in Vladivostok, Russia, on September 5.

The conference discussed issues on global value chains, food security, Doha Development Agenda, multilateral co-operation, and trade and development innovation. It also reached tariffs deal on an extended list of environmental goods.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), established in 1989, is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity by promoting free trade and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC focuses on three key areas:

  • Trade and Investment Liberalization
  • Business Facilitation
  • Economic and Technical Cooperation

The APEC Ministerial Conference sets the stage for the 2012 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Vladivostok on September 8-9.

For more information: http://www.apec.org/

JUST PUBLISHED!

 Jointly with Prof. Ronkainen of Georgetown, Prof. Sutton-Brady of the University of Sydney, Australia and Prof. Tim Beal of Victoria University in New Zealand, I am pleased to announce our newest book:

International Marketing, Second Asia-Pacific Edition , Melbourne,CENGAGE LEARNING, 2011     

This book addresses both the theory and the application of international marketing, especially in the Asia Pacific region. It provides up-to-date examples, case studies and data from Australia, New Zealand and throughout  Asia. It also concentrates more on the small- and medium-sized companies that are more typical in the Australian and New Zealand economies.  For more information please cut and paste the web site below.

http://www.cengage.com/aushed/instructor.do?disciplinenumber=1027&product_isbn=9780170186964&courseid=MK10&codeid=2A62&sortByShow=all&sortBy=copyrightYear&instructorFlag=true&newProducts=false&codeFlag=false