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When in Japan, Do as the Japanese Do

In the past, doing business in Japan was difficult, complicated, and frequently an unsuccessful venture. In addition to different languages, social customs, and histories, the United States is a low-context culture; Japanese is high-context. In current years, however, several U.S companies have overcome the many cultural and economic barriers facing foreigners in Japan.

DSP Group Inc. is one such company. The Californian-based semiconductor manufacturer generates nearly half its profits from sales in Japan. DSP management has learned to take care of the details. Japanese consumers are discriminating buyers, and small imperfections – small, i.e., by American standards – are large for Asian customers. Japanese customers pay close attention to the quality of work put in products, and notice such things as shoddy welding or soldering. Even a slight imperfection can kill a sale if Japanese consumer problems whether all the products are made poorly. Sloppy packaging signals careless manufacturing to Japanese consumers, so DSP devotes extra care to packaging.

Finally, DSP managers and other foreign business people who want to make money in Japan must learn to watch their image. Firms that sell items through catalogues have found it prudent to remove some low-priced products from Japanese catalogues even though the same products are big sellers in other countries. Why? Japanese consumers tend to judge products according to their product lines and overall performance of their manufacturers. If some catalogue items seem cheap, Japanese consumers may very well problem the quality of all merchandise in catalogue.

(a) Describe the cultural differences which might affect intercultural communication between DSP Group Inc. and Japanese consumers.

(b) Describe how these cultural differences can affect effective business communication patterns.

(c) What can the U.S firms DSP Group Inc.?  Do to overcome these intercultural communication barriers.

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