Fred Bailey: An Innocent Abroad Analysis
Keywords: working abroad cultural problems, hofstede dimension case
The purpose of this report is to analyse the problems faced by Fred Bailey and his family to adjust to the cultural differences in Japan, our main aim of this report is to provide solutions to Fred in convincing his family, to create a good understanding with all the employees in Tokyo office to emerge as one of the fastest growing offices in the world.
1.2 SCOPE OF THE REPORT:
This gives a brief explanation about the Japanese culture that American director’s need to learn. For this analysis, we use Hofstede’s dimension index to compare the different cultures as they also affect the work place environment. By the effective use of this analysis, Fred should come up with some new ideas to convince his family and finish his assignment in Japan that was assigned to him from his head office in Boston. In this case study, we have identified three major issues faced by Fred Bailey in Japan. Let us see the three issues using the Hofstede’s Analysis.
1.3 CASE BACKGROUND:
Kline & Associates, where Fred Bailey was employed in Boston was a large multinational providing professional consulting services for regulated financial institutions with offices in nineteen countries. The company was established in 1997 with its head office in Boston.
One fine day, Fred was called for a meeting with one of the partners of the firm. As the meeting commenced, Fred came to know that the meeting was not regarding the project that he finished successfully, but about a good opportunity to work in the company’s relatively new office in business district of Tokyo. Fred was really excited to work in Tokyo with many incentives offered to him like a sugar coated pill. The incentives offered to him were really worth three times the gross salary he gets in Boston. He was offered a promotion which had a tag of last step in position before becoming a partner for the firm, free education expenses for his children, car accompanied with a driver, expenses relating to the shipment of their things to Tokyo and an expensive house in the main commercial spaces of Tokyo. These mega offers really overshadowed the problem that he did not think of facing it in the present.
In this case study, we will analyse the problems faced by Fred using Hofstede’s Dimension of Index and provide a good solution for his success in completing the project.
1.4 REPORT OUTLINE:
The major three problems faced by Fred in Japan are examined by using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. These issues identified have a direct impact on the progress and success of the firm’s office in Tokyo. After the analysis, recommendations are given to make the firm one of the fastest performing among the other established firms.
2 BODY OF TEXT:
2.1 IDENTIFICATION OF PROBLEMS
The strong cultural difference between the two countries of Japan and America created many problems to arise in the life of Fred Bailey. Fred Bailey was not only upset with the procedures in the office but also had some family problems with his wife regarding the life in Japan. Let us see the issues faced by Fred in Japan.
The communication between the American and the Japanese employees were poor. Fred found that the Japanese employees in the firm were not organised and didn’t give any particular reply for the problems in the firm.
Family problems faced by Fred in Japan. Mrs Fred Bailey found the lifestyle of Japan very expensive and awkward to pass through. This created many problems during their stay in Japan. In fact Mrs. Bailey had made up her mind to get back home with her children in Boston.
Fred Bailey’s poor management strategies which resulted in delay of the projects for the top clients from Japan.
2.1.1 COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS FACED BY FRED BAILEY:
At the first instance of the general meeting held by Fred, he didn’t notice that the American and Japanese staff didn’t sit together. The response got from the American staff had lots of different opinions about certain things in the firm which may fit or may not fit in Fred’s ideas regards to some problems. But he did get unclear answers from the Japanese staffs rather got vague answers from them. This made Fred complete the meeting and conclude that the meeting did not achieve his objectives in finding out problems in his ideas.
The firm consisted of seven Americans and thirty three Japanese staff. Fred Bailey had organised for a general meeting with his subordinates. The meeting was to discuss his plans for the future directions of the company office for achieving their goals. At the very instance, Fred was not serious about the American and Japanese staff sitting separately. The reason for the issue is because of the strong cultural differences between Japanese staff and the American staff in the firm. The high individualistic ranking of 91 states that the people with individualistic attitude and relatively doesn’t bond with others. The people in American show a self reliant attitude and aimed at fulfilling their goals in the firm. As the Americans have an high individualistic attitude, Fred did not take the matter of American and Japanese staff sitting separately into consideration. This was also a major issue which influences the team work and coordination among the staffs. As he didn’t take this issue seriously, he was not able to get clear answers from the Japanese staff as he didn’t know their mind or know either their language. Fred also failed to get innovative ideas from the employees because the Americans and Japanese staff didn’t work as a team. This also might be a good reason for the delay in any projects they come across as Americans and Japanese staffs give two different ways of handling the situation. After the individual meeting with every staffs, Americans were positive and gave different opinions to make his ideas successful. On the other side, Japanese staff gave vague answers. This denotes that the Japanese were not completely aware of what Fred had put front. This shows that Japanese staff are not self reliant and did only depend on the orders from their leaders for any work in the firm (J. Stewart Black, 2010, p.2).
This is resulted for their firm to do badly in their returns during his regime as a director. This effect was felt in the firm’s performance when the client had not responded to the company’s next project with them even after several months.
Fred should come up with some social activities in the firm to encourage team work between American and Japanese staff.
Fred should organise individual meeting with the Japanese staff to understand their problems and motivate them to participate in the companies decision making activities.
Fred should have discussed the structure and problems involved in the firm with the Ex-director of the Japan’s office who had moved to well established office in England.
Fred should conduct meeting in regular intervals of time to analyse and improve the results of the firm.
Feedback from the employees should be taken in to account for the progress of the firm.
2.1.2 PROBLEMS IN FRED’S FAMILY:
After a month of their stay in Japan, Jennifer complained to Fred about several issues. She told that it was very tough to get day-to-day items like quality beef, maple syrup and peanut butter. She also complained that she had no knowledge about the language they speak, so she was not able to read the road signs or to order a specific food in a restaurant. She told that she had no one to talk to rather than a American club in downtown and the also other products cost two to three times than in U.S. (J. Stewart Black, 2010, p.2). These problems combined with that of their children’s quality education made Jennifer take some aggressive decision to leave Japan.
Jennifer was not enthusiastic as Fred at the beginning, when he told about the great opportunity for him in Japan. Jennifer thought that it would be difficult to cater their children’s education abroad. She also stated that their oldest son Christine would be getting promoted to middle school the year after. Other than that she had also thought of going to a part time work in the field of fashion designing in which she has her degree in. (J. Stewart Black, 2010, p.1). But Fred explained about the huge opportunity like the firm would bare to provide a car, rent free house, cater the costs of their children’s education expenses and overseas compensation that would equal three times his annual salary had convinced her to fly with him to Japan.
According to Hofstede’s dimension, America has a high dimension of masculinity (62) compared to the world average. From this we can state that America experiences high states of differentiation of roles in gender. The male in America are more dominant and possess a more power than women. So the situation turns in favour of the decisions taken by male which are away from women. But the present situation has gone worse and Jennifer was adamant on returning home. Jennifer was really frustrated with Japanese people in not understanding anybody or not able to find the things she wanted in store, not able to drive or read road signs. The main reason for this may be because the Fred’s family had no time to explore the Japanese culture and people. Although their children were doing well with their education, she questioned Fred as this assignment was also like the thing he has taken up in the past. So she had compelled Fred to leave Japan and return to their home country. Because of these stress from his family, Fred is in a dilemma about the proceedings in his work.
Fred’s family should have learned about the Japanese culture before their proceedings to Japan. They should have known about their geographic conditions that prevail in Japan.
As the same problems arises with the expatriates managers , Fred should have left his family in his home country and taken short breaks often to fly back to America to spend time with them. This might left him to focus properly on his job commitments in Japan.
Fred should have allocated time to spend with his family in regular intervals. He should have gone for short vacations with his family to wipe out the stress in his job environment.
Jennifer, in her spare time should have taken initiative to learn the Japanese culture and language.
2.1.3 FRED’S POOR MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Fred Bailey’s was preparing for a meeting with one of their important clients for a big project. There are two issues to be discussed in this section.
The meeting was headed by Fred, Ralph Webster and Kenichi Kurokawa from Kline & associates. The client had four members for the meeting between the firms. As the meeting progressed, Fred explained to the client about the expenses and costs for the project. As there were no responses from the Japanese clients, he proceeded to the summary of the project to end the meeting.
After several months of the meeting, there was no response about signing of the deal with the Japanese client. So he was frustrated and ordered Ralph to alter some proposals in the project and resubmit it to the client. But after recommendations from Ralph, this duty was assigned to a research associate Tashiro Watanabe. He was assigned to complete the duty within a week’s time. And when the time arrived, Ralph came to know that Tashiro would not be able to finish it within time. This got Fred frustrated about the communication with the Japanese employees. (J. Stewart Black, 2010, p.4).
Fred found himself very much frustrated with these problems in the firm. This was because of the strong cultural differences between the two countries. Americans expect clear communication and mostly depended on the speaker to delivery the message. But, on the other hand Japanese depend on hidden communication skills and placed responsibility on both the speaker and the listener.
Fred believed that, if an opinion or idea has to be transferred to another person, speaker held the complete responsibility in making the listener understand. This was totally different in case of Tashiro, he assumed that Fred would know the things that Tashiro had been going through even if he could have explained it clearly. The problem was caused because of the different communication styles and assumptions between the two cultures. After a week later when asked to Tashiro about his failure to do the duty on time, Tashiro complained that he had told them about it. But, Fred or Ralph was not able to get his answer which was told not told openly. This problem could have been easily identified if it could have been a Japanese manager taking up this issue. Due to these problems, Fred was frustrated with the Japanese customers and employees.
Fred should have assigned a Japanese manager for completing this proposal in time rather depending on a American manager.
Fred should have some knowledge about the cultures and behaviours of the Japanese customers and employees.
Fred should have tracked the progress of the report in regular intervals and have suggested some valuable points to Tashiro.
Fred should have formed a separate team of Japanese employees to propose the project to the clients as they might have known their culture and behaviour more clearly than the Americans.
3. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LAST PARAGRAPH:
Japan is considered as a major power which has the second largest economy in terms of GDP and purchasing power parity. Japan is the only Asian country to be a part of the G8 countries. It is a developed country which focuses mainly on consumer electronics. The country also enjoys high standard of living among the other developed countries.
The above paragraph clearly signifies the power of the Japanese people. Fred after looking out from the window, he saw the highway full of traffic and the vehicles didn’t move even after the traffic lights were changed. This can be also the same problem faced by his firm. The firm was not able to perform well because the head positions of the firm were headed by the American expatriates who didn’t know about the Japanese culture and understandings.
Now, when we see the underground passage of the road, which is the most advanced in the world, it moved hundreds of people to their homes without any problems. This signifies that firm could have been productive and could have attained the spot of fastest growing firm in the world if the top management were the Japanese employees in the firm. This is because the Japanese people could have handled the situation in a different way and could have solved the problems that were faced by the company. It gives a clue to Fred that, the top management should be comprised of Japanese mangers assisted by an American. This could have solved many problems easily without coming to this situation.
Fred’s assignment was to stay in Japan’s office for three years and complete all the assignment put forth to him. His mission was to establish the Japan’s office as the fastest growing company in the firm. The problems in the firm and in his family arise because of the cultural differences between the two countries. The top management in U.S. should come up with some plans to solve the issues or by helping Fred in solving them. Kline & Associates should have made the American managers and the analysts to learn the local culture of Japan to perform well in the firm. As we know from the past that Japan is a super power and only the people in that country have made that happen. This states that Japanese people are effective and hard-working if directed by the correct person who understands them and helps them.
5. IMPLEMENTATION AND IMPLICATIONS:
Kline & Associates management should train the expatriates about the host country’s culture, they should come up with training sessions which will help Fred and other American to avoid initial cultural shocks.
Vision of the company should have been discussed with all the employees in the firm, so that the performance of the firm could have improved.
At regular intervals, the performance should be measured and this testing team should be headed by a Japanese employee. This could improve the gap between the two cultures. Americans would come to know about the Japanese culture by conducting these team works.