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Culture means sharing of human patterns and behavior for living. It represents the way human being live their lives. For example language, food, music, clothes etc, represent the culture of a specific society. It should be noted that every society or country has its own culture . No one can deny the importance of culture considering the fact that it is a very powerful tool for the survival of human being. Culture is continuously changing, and as it keeps its place in our minds and hearts.
Our languages, buildings, government etc are not the culture itself; these are the products of culture that a specific society has developed. Culture is not a product of individualism but it is the product of different people who are continuously interacting with each other on a daily basis. If there is no interaction between people then the culture pattern, such as language, government, politics etc will make no sense. And there is no need of language and government if there are no human societies on earth.
Most people’s think that culture and society is the same thing but this is not true. As already explained, a society means group of people who interact with each others on daily basis, directly or indirectly. Humans are not the only animals who have societies; all other species have their own societies. Schools of fish, hives of bees and a group of birds are also societies following trends and traditions for millions of years. The success of countries also depends on the culture societies have built . Countries that have strong culture are able to offer good living standards to their public as compared to those countries who do lay foundations to a strong culture.
There is a lot of difference between UK and Japan culture, like language, education, business, building structures, transportation, shopping etc [3-5]. However, we will discuss these cultural differences in detail with the help of seven dimensions of cultural model which was created by Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Tunner in their book, “Riding the Waves of Culture”. This model is used to better understand the cultural backgrounds, in order to avoid misunderstanding and work more effectively with each other.
There are an enormous number of differences between the UK and Japanese business cultures. The greeting style of UK is handshake while making eye contact with the other person, while Japanese greeting style is bow, eyes on the floor, and palms on the thighs. Japanese always use the second name of the person, followed by the “san”, while in UK they say Mr/Mrs/Ms first, then the first name. The business entertainment between these two countries is quite different as well. Britishers can have lunch in the pub, but Japanese prefer to have lunch in restaurants and cafes and they often talk about their work even during their lunch break.
But the major cultural difference between UK and Japan is of the language, as the UK is located in Europe and Japan is located in the Asian region. The communication style between these two countries is quite different to each other. While people of the UK use English as their official language,, the language of Japan is Japanese. English is used as an official language almost across the world with many countries teaching their children English at a very early age to help them stay ahead in a highly competitive environment, Japanese on the other hand is spoken only by the people living in Japan. Language barrier thus turns into a major problem for Japanese students living in the UK for their higher education .
Another difference is the work attitude of people in Japan and the UK. The CEO’s of UK are less formal as compared to the CEO’s in Japan. CEO’s in Japan follow the rules very strictly. In the UK there exists a deep uncertainty among employees regarding their work. These employees deal with significant work related stress. Employees in the UK work only for the sake of money and to improve their individual lives and look after their families in a better way. . But in Japan workers enjoy a very stress free working environment. Furthermore the communication level between the employees is appreciable as compared to the UK. They work collectively for the improvement of their country and this trend does play its part in making Japanese products the best in the world.
Public transport of Japan is more efficient and reliable as compared to the UK; Japanese can live and work according to a very strict schedule, because they know that the trains and buses will arrive on time more often than not. The transport culture of Japan is such that the driver apologies to the waiting passenger if he reaches the stop late. In Tokyo trains always arrive at the platform at the scheduled time,. UK transport culture on the other hand is much lenient in its traditions. General public does not mind waiting for the trains and busses, and they have a developed a highly tolerant behavior towards inefficiency in the transport system. The Japanese are shocked when they come to the UK, especially London where they see terrible traffic jams on roads.
Another cultural difference between UK and Japan is of their schooling system. The academic year in Japan starts in March, whereas in UK it starts in September. In the UK, teachers have their personal offices and students go to the classrooms to attend lectures, but in Japan the teachers don’t have personal offices and they mostly work from the desks positioned right under the writing board. It has been observed that the Japanese teachers are more respected than their counterparts .
Now we conclude the whole discussion with the help of the Seven Dimension of Culture [8-9].
UK is Universalism cultural as the rules in the country are much stricter as compared to Japan. People in the UK prioritize the rules over the relationships. Japan, on the other hand, is a Particularism culture as the relationship is far more important than the rules.
The culture of UK is Individualism as people believe in personal freedom and live their lives according to their way best known to them. This practice, it makes people more creative and further allows them to learn from their mistakes. While the culture of Japan is Communitarianism and people believe that the group is more important than individuals. This practice helps the people to understand more deeply and share their success and failures with other members of the society.
When we talk about the business culture between these two countries we can say that the culture of UK is Neutral as the people manage their emotions quite effectively. Even if they are sad they don’t let it show to other people. The culture of Japan is very emotional. Individuals express their emotions more freely even when they are at work, however the work life of UK is quite different. UK has developed culture where people can draw a distinct line between the work life and home life.
The culture of UK is Specific, they believe to keep work and live separate, and people work good together without having any strong relationship between them. The culture of Japan is Diffuse; they build good relations with each other during the work, and believe that good relationships are very important to success at work
Another dimension of culture is Achievement versus Ascription. UK comes under the achievement culture because they give worth to the quality of work, and not to the position of an individual. While Japanese culture is Ascription, they value the individual by its power and position and not by the work. Priorities of both cultures are vastly different to each other.
Sixth dimension of culture is Sequential time versus Synchronous time. UK comes in Sequential time as they focus on one project at a time, and set a very clear deadline for the completion of that project. Japan comes under Synchronous time. Japanese will often work on several projects at the same time, and move employees on different projects, when possible.
The last dimension of culture is Internal Direction Versus Outer Direction. UK comes in the internal direction, they peoples believe in UK that they can control their working environment to achieve their goals. Japan, on the other hand, is under the influence of Outer Direction culture as they believe the environment control them and they must work with what’s available in order to achieve their goals [8-9].
We will now compare the cultures of Japan and Kazakhstan with the help of Hofstede’s five dimension of culture. It describes how the values of members are affected by the culture of society, and how we can relate these values to a group or individual behavior. As we are living in the global age, the technology is being using in almost every part of the world; the communications between different countries has become extremely easy with the help of technology. People can easily communicate with each other, no matter how far long the distances may. Effective communication and the idea of global village can help us share our culture with other societies and countries .
This dimension focuses on the inequality that exists in scoeity and which is accepted by people without and with power, It says that individual are not equal in the society, and the inequalities in the society shows the attitude of culture.
Japan has a decent 54 score for this particular dimension,, which shows the culture is based on the hierarchical structure. Japanese are always conscious about the hierarchical structure in their society and act accordingly. The business experience of Japan shows that Japanese have slow decision making process because of their hierarchical system as compared to the other Asian countries. The decisions must be approved by senior members of their hierarchical system. The final decision, however, is made only with the agreement of all concerned parties. .
The Kazakhstan is also an extremely hierarchical society. People are given respect according to their age and position. They respect the views of the older and accept all the final decisions made by the elders or the most senior member of their hierarchy system. As the decision is made by the higher management only, the decision making process of Kazakhstan is quite fast as compared to Japan .
Individualism defines the framework in which the individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. In Individualism societies, people stand up for themselves and their families, and also they work for themselves and for their families to improve their lives, while in collectivist societies people belong to a group, where they work in exchange of their loyalties.
As discussed earlier the society of Japan is a collectivist society and the people work in groups with a firm belief in collective work rather than individual work. However, Japan is not the most collectivist culture, if we compared it with most of her Asian neighbors, because Japanese societies don’t have the extended family system that is the base of a collectivist society.
Compared to the other societies who have a more collectivism culture, like Kazakhstan, Japan is a Paternalistic society; the elder son inherited the family name and asset from father, the younger ones have to leave home and make their own living with their immediate families. Japanese are loyal to their companies while the people of Kazakhstan change their jobs more frequently. From the above discussion, we can conclude that from western standards the experience of Japanese is collectivism and from the Asian standard their experience is individualism. The people of Japan are more reserved and private as compared to the people of Kazakhstan.
The family system runs deep in Kazakhstan, and on various instances this has proved to be beneficial as well as contradictory. Stronger family systems ensures that the cultural habitats are maintain within the society and strong bonds are maintained which is important to avoid family issues in the society. However on the other, this kind system contradicts with the merit system, where the opportunities are provided in accordance with the personal expertise. The system in Kazakhstan therefore lacks the merit system, and the important positions are transformed to the personnel on the bases of family names. Same goes in the politics and the business community, where the management is run with the close associations of the members of the same groups .
Those societies who follow the strict rules related to their values and the roles of male and female in the organizations comes under Masculinity / Femininity societies. Japan comes under Masculinity society with the highest score in the world which is 95. Hofstede’s analysis says, if you want to open an office in Japan, appoint the male candidate to lead the organization for the better success of business. Japanese prefer the male to be on the top instead of women.
The employees in Japan are more motivated then the employees in Kazakhstan, that is why their economy is one of the best in the world. Employees in Japan are determined to win projects against their competitors to serve their organization in the best way possible. It’s very difficult for women in Japan to compete with the men, and furthermore women do not get that much importance in corporate culture as compared to the men.
In Japanese societies, there is a huge distinction between the genders regarding the positions and assigned duties. Their culture has defined some specific work duties for the men such as what man should do. Similarly, work duties for women are also pre defined in most parts of Japan. Kazakhstan is the mix of both masculinity and femininity. The men and women are treated respectfully in Kazakhstan and they both are equal to each other in all fields and aspects of life. In Kazakhstan, it is common to see women holding positions of power, which is indeed an exception among Muslim countries.
The women are encouraged to play a role or the development of the economy. This raises the accumulated work force of the developing Kazakhstan. Much consideration of given to the artworks which women can completed, or example women are encouraged to artistic skills so that many women can work home, for example many women in the subject country have been reported to work stitching hand woven cloths, handmade shops etc. Effort is also being made to microfinance this industry.
These are societies in which some members feel uncertain and uncomfortable in their culture. In this dimension of Hofstede’s model the score of Japan is 92. Japan tops the list of the most uncertainty avoidance countries in the world since the probability of natural disasters in Japan is much higher than other countries. Japanese always feel the threat of earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis (this is a Japanese word and is used internationally all over the world). Japanese have constructed their buildings and other infrastructure in a way that can handle the natural disasters effectively with minimal loss of life and infrastructure. In the corporate environment of Japan, a lot of money and time is spent on the preparation of feasibility reports.
Furthermore, all the other factors are also worked out before the start of any project. Due to the high risk of uncertainty in Japan, it is very difficult to realize changes despite the fact that the general public is almost always prepared to cope with the challenges as a result of natural disasters. The society of Kazakhstan is not as uncertain as that of Japan. This further reflects in the politics of the country as, where a President remains in the office for almost 20 years. Not much work is done on safety analyses and engineering works and the emphasis on most projects is to reduce the financial cost of any developing infrastructure . This culture highlights the fact that though the next generation is being trained and provided much information to consider the uncertainty avoidance, much work is till be done in the future.
The last dimension of Hofstede’s model was incorporated in 1990. Long term Orientation is dedicated to the societies who build long term relationships with other members of the society especially to their families and they help each other in every difficult situation.. Even in the corporate sector of Japan, companies help each other in difficult situations for the sake of their country. Perhaps, that is why the economy of Japan is one of the fastest growing in the world economy. In Japan, companies believe in serving the nation, and they are not there just to make money.
Kazakhstan is also a long term orientation society as the people give much importance to their families. People give more respect and authority to the elders then younger’s. The relationship with the surrounding countries as well as the developed countries is progressing. The country needs better relations with such countries to promote the trade in terms of export. The society of Kazakhstan is yet to develop multi culture environment where the residents from various backgrounds are brought together to live and work to achieve same goals. The lack multi culture is due to various factors, and the most influential factors are lack of intent and as well as facilities. The international standard of facilities is not provided in the local system and the opportunities are not as bright as these are in Japan. Procedures are often not followed and there is room for improvement in the management system. Industries are developing, and with the hopeful improvement in the multi discipline organizations, things might change in the near future
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