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Conduct of American-Japanese Business Negotiations


The cultural differences of every nation are often regarded as the key factors, which promote or distract further success in the negotiations. Originally, success or failure depends on the knowledge of these differences by the negotiating parties. The aim of this paper is to analyze the negotiation aspects of the American negotiators and explain the possible mistakes and factors on the example of the American – Japanese business negotiations.

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The American negotiation style is often considered as daring, and more oriented toward business relations with the partner. Considering the fact that there are essential differences between American and Japanese styles, the reason for failure was the unawareness of Tom Young in the key Japanese traditions in running and negotiating business. In spite of the successful flow of the negotiation process, Tom did not consider the fact that the final decision is taken by the oldest family member, and this decision can not be discussed or changed by someone else. Thus, the business-oriented model of the American business did not survive the strength of the tradition-oriented Japanese model. (Bjerke, 2007)

Discussing the American traditions of negotiating, it should be emphasized that the original value, which is pursued by the Americans is the chase for benefits, while the Japanese negotiators aim to consider all the possible aspects and factors, as well as think over all the possible consequences. The fact is that the Japanese businessmen will never take an independent decision without consulting with the other team members, and the family members if they are involved in business running. Mr. Hayakawa has inherited the position of the directory from his grandfather, consequently, tom Young should consider the fact, that the final decision will be taken by this octogenarian, and all the efforts should be directed for impressing him. (Deeks, 2004)

Originally, this mistake is not particularly American. Lots of businessmen get into similar traps when they negotiate with representatives of other cultures. The only principle of successful negotiations, which should be pursued is the principle of studying the partner. The more people know about their partners, competitors, target audience, and other subjects of the business activity, the more successful the results of the negotiations are.

Surely, the traditionally oriented and conservative Hayakawa’s grandfather would not like the way the Americans negotiate, as he preferred few words instead of verbosity, strategically ambiguous communication instead of to-the-point communication, group orientation instead of personal orientation, and independent decisions. From the position of the older worker, and the grandfather of the current director, who had been running the company before passing this running to Mr. Hayakawa, he had an opportunity and privilege to make the final decision, which is not discussed. In the light of this fact, it should be emphasized that the skills, which were required are the flexibility of the negotiating, capability to listen to Hayakawa’s grandfather gently and quickly make counteroffers if he was really interested in the successful termination of the negotiations. Anyway, it is a typical feature of all the Americans – to negotiate from the position of power and influence, never minding the interests and the traditions of the other people.


All the negotiation issues which should be discussed in the offered case study may have resulted in a few words: “lack of flexibility”. Tom Young had to study not only the business background of the Japanese company but also find out more about the traditions and customs of the Japanese business culture.


Bjerke, B. (2007). Business Leadership and Culture National Management Styles in the Global Economy. Cheltenham, England: Edward Elgar.

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Deeks, J. (2004). Business and the Culture of the Enterprise Society. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.

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