Dear Vice President (VP) of Production,
I write to inform you that our Production Manager, Mr. Mark Jones has been given a transfer. He has been moved from the manufacturing plant in his hometown of Chicago to his company’s overseas manufacturing plant in Osaka, Japan. However, due to the change in the working environment, Jones will experience some cultural difference at the current working location. There will be differences when managing the front-line plant workers in Japan in contrast to in the U.S.A. Similarly, the email contains information on how cultural differences may play a role in individual differences. Lastly, the email contains at least three recommendations and their roles on how managers can take up overseas tasks with minimum transition problems.
According to Hofstede, the cultural dimensions involve describing how the society’s culture and values relate to the behaviors of its members. It include the following; power distance, masculinity/femininity, and individualism/collectivism. First, Power distance refers to a situation where members of individual institution consider and anticipate power to be distributed unequally. The less powerful people mainly expect the scenario in the organization. Societies are deemed to be unequal; however, others seem equal than others. Moreover, according to Hofstede, the power distance index is higher in Japan (Soares, Farhangmehr, & Shoham, 2007). Therefore, the subordinate staff in the organization will expect the production manager to tell them what to do and expected of them. Also, the frequency of corruption is high and most of the time the organization will cover various scandals.
Second, Hofstede talked of individualism/collectivism. Individualism involves a person taking care of himself or a family member. On the other hand, collectivism portrays a situation where members of an organization or society come together and work as a group (Soares, Farhangmehr, & Shoham, 2007). In the USA, Mark Jones used to practice individualism, and when dealing with interpersonal issues there are chances of using confrontational strategies. However, this is not practiced in Japan. Japan is locked between using collectivism and individualism, and hence it takes the middle position.
The third dimension is masculinity/femininity. For a society to find a range of solutions, it has to distribute its value between the genders. Masculinity is high in Japan and low in The USA (Soares, Farhangmehr, & Shoham, 2007). Therefore, people working at the manufacturing plant in Osaka will believe in the ambitions and achievements of Mark Jones as their production manager. Also, the culture believes that men should be assertive.
The cultural difference plays a vital role in ensuring the expatriate (Mark Jones) adapts to the new environment. Jones will find more of new values, and since there is a bigger gap between Japan and United States of America, then adaptation process becomes challenging. Therefore, it will require that Jones accepts the culture and try to interact by seeking pieces of advice from the relevant people in the organization. Also, it will be good for him to get extensive training and preparation so as to adapt to the culture of the host.
I have three recommendations for Mark Jones on how he should take the oversea job with minimum transition problems. First, he should establish a sound foundation for his family. It will help in controlling his feelings of isolation and not being around. Second, Jones should build credibility and openness. He should ask lots of questions to the people in the organization instead of making mere statements. Also, he should allow his colleagues to approve or disapprove his theories and hence he should clearly listen to them. Mark Jones can also do well by identifying few cultural interpreters who have extensive experience working in Japanese culture. They will help in translating and delivering his ideas in a proper way.
Third, Mark Jones should consider compliance. Therefore, he should identify and manage all the compliance issues. It would be good if people in the front lines are questioned on various actions they undertake and in case of problems quick actions are taken.
Soares, A. M., Farhangmehr, M., & Shoham, A. (2007). Hofstede’s dimensions of culture in international marketing studies. Journal of business research,60(3), 277-284.
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