Japan: Impact of Culture on Business Management


Japanese culture influences the work practices and business practices in the country. The culture of stressing the process than the results has brought out large changes in the way the work is done in the companies. The loyalty to the companies that they work for and the pride that they have in it, makes them slog for their company. This has influenced every aspect of Japanese work ethic and man-management methods.

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The Japanese culture has a profound influence on the working of their companies. Most often as Heiko (1989) points out, the success of a work practice depends exclusively on the way the social and business culture has developed (Tokuyama, 1987). Lazer et al (1985) pointed out that there is more to Japanese marketing practices than meets the eye. Whatever is the working method adopted, it should be noted that the culture imbibed in the society plays a vital role in every aspect of management. This article identifies the impact of culture on man-management and works ethics in Japan.

Culture on Man Management

The principle of ‘Wa’ is still dominant in Japanese culture. Harmony is more revered. That is the reason, why still people pass about their visiting cards to indicate the company they work for and the position they occupy in that company. This is the one on which the individual’s respect is based in Japan (Jodie Gorrill, 2007; Venturejapan, 2007). Kao or the face is another major component of business practice in Japan. The face of the person is taken to be the indication of respect and trust. In line with these two, the ‘omoiyari’ which stands for loyalty makes man-management much easier in Japan. As Cundiff and Hilger (1988) point out, there is a close link between the way men work in Japanese companies and their culture. ‘They set the stage for the nationalism in Japan’ according to them, which also sets the view for foreign working methods and practices. This also decides on the approach they have on foreign goods and services and their attitude towards women and colleagues in the work environment (Czinkota and Ronkainen, 1988; Jacofsky, Slocum and McQuaid, 1988).

Culture on Work Ethics

Dr. Isamu Kurita  indicates after extensive research of the Fujitsu that the process in Japan has more importance than the end result. This has stemmed from the approach that the Japanese have to live. Even in the tea ceremony, the Japanese imbibe the process more than the end result of drinking tea. This is reflected in every working process that is adopted in their culture and workplace. There is also a greater tendency to work as a community rather than as an individual. That is, they are more for conforming patterns of work ethics rather than for entrepreneurial culture. This makes them work with one company all through their life rather than produce a business (Taylor, 1983; Robert Heller, 2006). The concern of the whole is more important and that is the reason why praise to individuals is abhorred and praise to the group is more encouraged even when success is achieved. As Kang points out, one own thought or style is discouraged. Working with the group and doing as the society is doing is more in line. This has been the basic structure of the Japanese working practice. This has led to a strong hierarchical structure as well in the workplace. There is also a long-term commitment in most of the cases, as it was in the case of Toyota’s Lexus or the Infiniti of Nissan (Ford & Honeycutt, 1992).


It could be seen from the various researches that have been done so far and from the working methods adopted by the Japanese firms, that there is a close link between the culture and the work ethics in the company. Business practices, marketing strategies, and the meetings with foreign companies are all dictated by the work ethics brought about by the cultural needs of the Japanese society.


  1. Cundiff and Hilger 1988. Marketing in the International Environment. Prentice Hall Inc., Englewood Cliff, NJ.
  2. Czinkota and Ronkainen 1988. International Marketing. The Dryden Press, Chicago.
  3. Ellen F. Jacofsky, John W. Slocum, Jr., and Sara J. McQuaid, 1988. Cultural Values and the CEO: Alluring Companions, Academy of Management Executive, Vol: 2, No.1, pp 39-49.
  4. Ford & Honeycutt 1992. Japanese national culture as a basis for understanding Japanese business practices, Business Horizons.
  5. Heiko 1989. Some relationships between Japanese Culture and Just-in-time. Academy of Management Executive. Vol: 3, No.4, pp 319-321.
  6. Isamu Kurita, 1987. Japanese Identity. Fujitsu Institute of Management Press, Tokyo.
  7. Jodie Gorrill 2007. Doing Business in Japan. Communicaid Group.
  8. Kang, Gaishi 1990. The Foreign Company in Japan. Basic Books, New York.
  9. Lazer et al, 1985, Japanese Marketing: Towards a Better Understanding. Journal of Marketing, 1985, pp. 69-81.
  10. Robert Heller 2006. Japanese Business Culture: Soichiro Honda, Manager and entrepreneur. Thinking managers.
  11. Taylor, Jared, 1983. Shadows of the Rising Sun, Quill Books, New York.
  12. Tokuyama 1987. Strengths and Weaknesses of Japanese Management. New Management Vol.5, No.2, pp 27-31.
  13. Venturejapan 2007. Japanese Business Culture. 
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