Negotiation In a Cross-Cultural Environment—American versus Japanese
Table of contents
Negotiations always occur between parties who believe that some benefit may come of purposeful discussion. The parties to a negotiation usually share an intention to reach an agreement. This is the touchstone to which any thinking of negotiations must refer. While there may be some reason to view negotiations as attempts by each party to get the better of the other, this particular type of adversarial negotiation is really just one of the options available. Among the beginning principles of a negotiation must be an acknowledgment that the parties to a negotiation have both individual and group interests that are partially shared and partially in conflict, though the parameters and proportions of these agreements and disagreements will never be thoroughly known; this acknowledgment identifies both the reason and the essential subject matter for reflection on a wide range of issues relevant to a negotiation. (Gregory Tropea, November 1996)
Any negotiation challenges the parties involved in a variety of ways, but parties with conflicting interests face important additional difficulties when attempting to negotiate an agreement across culture lines. Not only will the difficulties arising from the known similarities and differences of opinion be more pronounced, but also unsuspected factors could easily enter the picture and condition perceptions of the situation. In cross-cultural negotiations, a reasonable second acknowledgment should be that the hidden factors that are always at work are more likely to interfere with reaching an agreement. It is especially important that this acknowledgment be understood to apply not only to the dynamics of interactions across the table, but those of individuals on the same side of the table. [At times, it may be tempting to attribute the outcomes of negotiations to a single variable (such as the culture or the relative power of a country).] The term culture has taken on many different meanings but basically it reflects the shared values. Culture affects negotiations in different ways. In this paper, we are going to discuss the American and Jap...
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...verestimate etiquette! Although your Japanese business partners may look dead serious (and Japanese people usually take work dead-serious...), they also are human and know to laugh... Here is a famous story (not sure it's a true story though...) demonstrating what can happen with exaggerated cultural adaptation:
An important US-Japan negotiation is scheduled in Hawaii - midway between the american continent and Japan. The Japanese party and the US negotiation party both have done their preparations well: they studied the material, the facts, prepared strategies, fall-back positions, read up on how to negotiate with the Japanese (or the Americans) and read about cultural differences, and learnt a few polite word's in the other party's language. The doors open and in come the Japanese and the US negotiators. The Japanese negotiators - all experienced senior managers - trying their best to adapt to American culture and to create a good atmosphere, enter the conference room dressed in Aloha shirts, sandals, shorts while on the other side of the room the American delegation enters: dressed in stiff white starched shirts, dark tie, dark blue business suits, polished black shoes...
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Implementing Cross Cultural Negotiations, Body Language, Communication, Planning, And My Interpersonal Communications
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