Leadership and Globalization in the US and Japan


Leadership is a social influence in which a person can motivate or influence others and acquire their support in order to work together and accomplish a certain task. A leader can be defined as a person with the ability to influence others to work as a team and directs or guides them to achieve the common goal. Fu (2011, p.9) defines globalization as the process by which companies, businesses and other firms develop international influence and begin the process of operating the business on an international scale. Huang, Rode and Schroeder (2011, p.7) argue that globalization has rapidly changed the business environment. This has affected the forms and leadership features that are currently practiced by organizations. This essay explores the impact of globalization on leadership.

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Leadership in a globalization era

Globalization has impacted leadership in most international business firms. With globalization, leadership is understood and studied in the way organizations are organized to deliver their services to the global environment. The focus is also significant in emerging business revolutions such as managing diversity and sustainability of the business. The success of an organization in a global era rests on how business leaders and managers can demonstrate authentic leadership. It also rests on how they can anticipate change and embrace social responsibility (Naor, Linderman and Schroeder, 2010, p.34).

Additionally, globalization has created international recognition on the existing differences in leadership practices among international business organizations (McKelvey, 2010, p.12). The differences are in the way organizations in one country practice leadership styles that could be similar or different from other organizations in other countries. They also establish varying business strategies that enhance competitive advantage in the global business environment. The essay explores the impact of globalization on leadership features and practices. The essay also provides an analysis of leadership practices practiced in Japan and in the USA and how globalization has contributed to leadership practices.

The differences and similarities of leadership features practiced in Japan and in the USA

There exists different leadership features practiced both in Japan and the USA. Some of these differences have been facilitated by globalization through elements such as technological advancements and migrations that have resulted in cultural diversity. The implicit leadership theory asserts that the society’s underlying beliefs and assumptions influence the extent to which the society views a person as a good leader (Huang, Rode and Schroeder, 2011, p.22). Intercultural environment has contributed to different leadership practices between Japan and the USA.

In the USA, leaders have created mechanisms that enable employees to bring to the workplace their norms and codes of behaviour. These norms shape the managerial practices such as the formation of the organizational structure that can accommodate employees from diverse cultures. In the USA, the selection procedure of new employees is based on their personal records. Additionally, in the USA, promotion to senior positions is based on personal achievements.

However, Japan has a hierarchical and collectivistic cultures and seniority plays a critical role in promotion decisions. Anshu and Arpana (2012, p.17) argue that this is practiced by companies to fulfil the government’s requirement of diversity recognition at the work place.

Additionally, Japanese managers and leaders typically set the general objectives of the organization and allow the subordinates to use their skills and approaches to achieve the set objectives. In Japan, strong emphasis is put on collective responsibility and group harmony. The leadership style in Japan is also noted with collective decision making and effective communication practices to all employees regardless of their cultural background. McCann, Hassard and Morris (2010, p.16) state that management of cultural diversity is one of the leadership approach thatJapan has emphasized. It is believed to be an effective mechanism for attracting foreign investors who can facilitate the international business and improve the economy of the country.

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As opposed to this, supportive and directive leadership has been consistent in most organizations in the USA. Additionally, punishment and rewards on individual performances also characterize most of the organizations in the country. This practice in the business organizations of the USA is linked to the nation’s policies that encourage competition among citizens and business organizations (McCann, Hassard and Morris, 2010, p. 39).


Fu (2011, p.21) stated that most of the businesses, both in Japan and USA share some similar leadership styles, for example, in the management of diversity. Globalization has enhanced the movements of people, services, products and technology. This has impacted on leadership styles practiced by managers in Japan and in USA. Managers have recognized the significance of identifying and appreciating different cultures of their employees. Management of cultural diversity enables employees to share their knowledge and ideas which is essential for successful international business of an organization(McCann, Hassard and Morris, 2010, p.40).

Additionally, organizations in Japan and the USA have recognized the need for restructuring their managerial labour. Organizations have formed strategies and created employment systems that are convergent. This means that the focus has shifted to employing persons from different parts of the world. Similarly, most of the companies have formed a global cooperation in order to speed up decision making processes on international business matters. Anshu and Arpana (2012, p.14) also state that cooperation cuts on costs, reduces bureaucratic inertia and makes companies become more responsive and flexible in handling international business matters.

Furthermore, the roles and responsibilities of managers have increased dramatically due to globalization. This is because most organizations have been restructured in order to meet the requirements necessary to compete with other international businesses. The study conducted by Fu (2011, p.19) on managers in the USA and Japan all indicated that their work responsibilities have increased dramatically. For example, leaders have the responsibility to undertake additional tasks such as creation and implementation of policies that support international trade and developing expatriate training programs. This is additional to the creation of business strategies that can enhance competition of an organization with others.

Changes in leadership features caused by globalization in the USA and Japan

Globalization has resulted in changes in the way organizations conduct business internationally both in Japan and in the USA. For example, globalization has changed the managerial styles of hiring employees. The study conducted by McCann, Hassard and Morris (2010, p.21) indicated that managers in USAutoCo organization changed their approaches to leadership as a result of globalization.

The research found out that in the US, the company focused on retaining intellectual talents of employees. Most organizations in the USA train their employees locally and also send them to other countries such as to Asia and Africa (McCann, Hassard and Morris, 2010, p.20). The reason why most managers in the USA practice this is to develop their workforce to work successfully in a multicultural environment.

Globalization has also resulted in changes in the way organizations conduct their businesses. Japan has focused on direct investments abroad and also in sub-contracting foreign countries. This has enabled most of the companies in Japan to contract foreign labour from countries such as UK and USA. The purpose of this practice is to acquire business skills and knowledge from foreign nations which Huang, Rode and Schroeder (2011, p.11) argue to be critical for the current global competitive market economy.

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Managers and business leaders in Japan have tried to overcome poor execution of services and competition. As such the leading business firms in Japan have introduced innovations and ideas from the outside sources. For example, they acquire new ideas and information from other industries, businesses, regions and countries (McKelvey, 2010, p, 21). Additionally, in order for them to succeed in the international market, business companies in Japan have established aggressive strategic policies.

The policies include those made by foreign subsidiaries and can create global opportunities. For example, Toyota Company, a motor company based in Japan has invested heavily in international training. The company sends some of its employees to Canada to learn new technologies. These technologies are utilised by Toyota Company in manufacturing and development of new products that can compete in the international market.

Additionally, globalization has resulted in a global competitive economy, as well as more knowledge based society. This has also altered the leadership features in the USA. The research conducted in the US based international business firms by McCann, Hassard and Morris (2010, p.15) indicates that there is a significant change in the approach to leadership. Managers are required to establish strategies that enhance the development of the business locally and internationally. Middle level managers have adopted these new changes in order to ensure the international growth of their firms. Additionally, the changes to organizational processes and structures in the USA have made the working lives of managers pressured, complex and more demanding (Voegtlin, Patzer and Scherer, 2012, p.24).

According to McKelvey (2010, p.11), dominant leadership models have emanated from powerful countries. Globalization has contributed to competition among businesses for the international business. With globalization, Japan has adopted some of the leadership models from the USA. For example, most of the Japanese companies have turned from conflict to cooperation with other international business companies. Majority of Japanese companies formed joint ventures, mergers and business alliances with USA firms. This was aimed at enhancing business activities globally (McCann, Hassard and Morris, 2010, p.30).

Additionally, Japanese firms develop their employees mainly by sending some of them to the States for training. They are sent to be trained both in business organizations as well as in learning institutionsin USA (McCann, Hassard and Morris, 2010, p.25). This is because the US have been the global leader in education and it has enabled people to acquire skills necessary for effective management of organizations in a competitive global economy.

Globalization has also made business organizations in USA to adopt and retain new labour and talents from Japan. This is evident in the study conducted by Anshu and Arpana (2012, p.13). The assumption of the study was that most firms in the USA retain some of the employees from Japan sent to the country for international business assignments. The explanation provided by managers to this practice is that most of the international firms in the USA believe that knowledge is the key driver to the growth of the business. This implies that firms in the USA value the knowledge and expertise of people from foreign countries (Witt and Redding, 2008, p.22). Additionally, this practice indicates that possession of knowledge from foreign countries has also been adopted by firms in order to facilitate international business.


The essay has explored the impacts of globalization on leadership with the emphasis on comparisons between organizations in Japan and in the USA. In a global society, the quality of management and leadership practices are essential for success and growth. There are various essential elements that are currently practiced by leaders and managers to enhance their business processes and practices.

They have developed new strategies for international competitive advantage and sustainability of the business. For example, organizations have recognized the value of managing cultural diversity in order to collect and utilize the knowledge of their employees from a diverse cultural background. Similarly, companies and countries across the world struggle to succeed in their business practices in the international market which is now the source of productivity and wealth creation.

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Reference List

Anshu, Y., & Arpana, K 2012, ‘Corporate transformation through Leadership: Understanding Macro-Cultural Implications for Indian organizations’, Research Journal of Recent Sciences ISSN, Is. 2277, p. 2502.

Fu, Huiyan 2011, ‘Anthropologising the complexity of leadership: a holistic understanding of cross–cultural context’, International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 395-410.

Huang, X. Rode, JC. & Schroeder, RG 2011, ‘Organizational structure and continuous improvement and learning: Moderating effects of cultural endorsement of participative leadership’, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 42, No. 9, pp. 1103-1120.

McCann, L. Hassard, J. & Morris, J 2010, ‘Restructuring Managerial Labour in the USA, the UK and Japan: Challenging the Salience of ‘Varieties of Capitalism’’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 347-374.

McKelvey, B 2010, ‘Complexity leadership: the secret of Jack Welch’s success’’, International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 4–36.

Naor, M., Linderman, K, & Schroeder, R 2010, ‘The globalization of operations in Eastern and Western countries: Unpacking the relationship between national and organizational culture and its impact on manufacturing performance’, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 194-205.

Voegtlin, C. Patzer, M. & Scherer, AG 2012, ‘Responsible leadership in global business: A new approach to leadership and its multi-level outcomes’, Journal of business ethics, Vol. 105, No. 1, pp. 1-16.

Witt, MA. & Redding, G 2008, ‘Culture, meaning, and institutions: Executive rationale in Germany and Japan’, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 40, No. 5, pp. 859-885.

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