NEGOTIATION & DECISION-MAKING
When negotiating in Japan, a person should be very familiar with
the Japanese Customs. Getting acquainted is very important during the first
meeting. A person should not talk business during the initial meeting,
unless you have a time constraint, in that case business should only be
discussed when at least 15 minutes have passed or the Japanese person says
"Jitsu wa ne..." ("the fact of the matter is..."). Building relationships
in Japan are important because Japanese rely on their feelings rather than
empirical evidence. Having connections are very important in Japan. If
you can request a consultation with an important and highly respected individual
in Japan, you can then use his/her endorsement and connection to further
your business efforts. Business Cards are also an important part of doing
business in Japan. They are the key for establishing credentials. They
are highly respected by the Japanese and should be cared for with respect.
Also in Japan, age equals rank, so be very respectful to older Japanese
Remember, the Japanese people are quiet and low-key individuals and
when having negotiations these manners are expected. Be sure to not show
anger or make accusations or direct refusals. Remaining indirect until
all negotiating has occurred is better.
A very important point to remember is the group is thought of higher
than individuals. Always direct information to the group and do not single
out individuals. Appealing to the entire group could prove more beneficial
than convincing an individual. Make sure you have done your homework on
the company and its atmosphere and culture. And finally, always be patient.
The decision-making process can take as long as one to three years depending
on the topic of discussion. The Japanese prefer oral agreements rather
than written ones and contracts can always be renegotiated.
Learning the art of "ZEN" can help you to understand better why the
Japanese do certain things or think certain ways.
Description Of Negotiator
In Japan, it is very important to negotiate with someone
of your same rank in the company. The Japanese negotiator will be subtle,
quiet, and polite. He/she will hide their emotions. Loyalty is very important
in Japan, so the negotiator will not agree to anything that may harm the
company. Japanese negotiators are influenced by their special interests
which is why relationship building is essential. The Japanese also do not
like to be embarrassed and will make decisions based on "face-saving."
The ultimate goal is to make decisions for the "good of the group." Japanese
negotiators may appear to be asleep during a meeting but they are actually
intensely listening to the information they are receiving.
The Japanese will make risky decisions if they feel it could help
the group, company, or the country. They will not make risky decisions
if they do not have enough information about the situation. Japanese thrive
on education and knowing all the possible outcomes for a decision.
Locus Of Control
The Japanese base decisions on a long-term perspective of
all the information. So much research and group discussion has gone into
the process for making a decision, that they know all the possible outcomes
for any decision they may make. (See also Interview - Japan - Cultural
Autocratic Leadership vs. Participative Leadership
The Japanese practice Participative Leadership. A proposal
will go through different levels in the organization for approval. Once
the proposal has many seals of approval from individuals at different management
levels in the organization, the proposal has a greater chance for a final
approval by the president of the company.
Collectivist vs. Individualistic
The group is very important in Japan. Most decisions are
based on what is best for the group or a group consensus. The Japanese
orientation is Collectivist.
Objective Approach vs. Subjective Approach
Emotions are very important in the Japanese culture. Many
of their decisions are influenced by these emotions and feelings. Therefore
Japan's decision making is affected by the subjective approach.
Moral Idealism vs. Utilitarianism
The Japanese are also influenced by Moral Idealism. Most
of their decisions are based on how it will affect the overall goals and
strategies of the company in the long run. Proposals go through a long
process of research, discussion, alternative solutions, and outcomes on
different levels of the organization before they are considered for approval.
The decision is only made if the president knows how it will ultimately
affect the company as a whole.
Deresky, Helen. International Management. Prentice-Hall, New
Miyakoda, Tooru. Interview. February, 2002.