Academic journal article Management International Review

Predictors of Japanese and American Managers Job Success, Personal Adjustment, and Intercultural Interaction Effectiveness

Academic journal article Management International Review

Predictors of Japanese and American Managers Job Success, Personal Adjustment, and Intercultural Interaction Effectiveness

Article excerpt

Introduction

While Da Cadamosto describes what appears to be a rather "successful" multi-cultural business exchange, its strategy for current international business activities clearly is of historical interest only. Today, cross-cultural business practices and global markets are not only increasingly important to the "bottom line" of multinational corporations (MNC's) (Schnapper 1979), but fraught with a variety of "intercultural" difficulties (Hammer 1984). Work by Early (1987), Harris and Moran (1987), Tung (1982), Shaaf (1981), Tucker and Wight (1981), Lanier (1979), Feldman (1976) and Henry (1965) indicate that the overseas assignment oftentimes incurs unnecessarily high costs, significant premature return rates, poor job performance, individual and family adjustment problems, and difficulties in maintaining productive and satisfying social relationships with people from the host culture.

A large body of research confirms that the predominant reason for such failure is not due to the technical competence of the managers (which is typically quite high), but to the dynamics of the intercultural experience (e.g., Dinges 1983, Kealey and Ruben 1983, Gudykunst and Hammer 1983, Brislin 1981, Tung 1982). These dynamics of the intercultural experience include differences in cultural perceptions, values and practices which influence understanding, attitudinal satisfaction with living in a foreign culture, relationship development, and the accomplishment of goals (Hall 1976, Hofstede 1980, 1991, Adler 1991, Brislin 1993, Brislin and Yoshida 1994).

One important question that arises, then, and which provides the general focus of the present study is: what intercultural variables are most predictive of international manager's job performance, attitudinal satisfaction with living in the host culture, and the development of effective and rewarding interpersonal relations with host county managers and employees?

The specific context of this study involves American managers from a fortune 500 MNC who were posted to the MNC's subsidiary in Japan and the subsidiaries' Japanese manager counterparts. Research has clearly identified a number of cultural differences between Japanese and Americans, in such areas as organizational learning (Sullivan and Nonaka 1986) and human resource system management (Milliman, Glinow and Nathan 1991, Black, Gregersen and Mendenhall 1992), values (Kelley, Whatley and Worthley 1987), gift-giving (Beatty, Kahle, Utsey and Keown 1993), reward distribution (Kim, Park and Suzuki 1990), management style (Culpan and Kucukemiroglu 1993, Ouchi 1981, Pascale and Althos 1981), negotiation (Weiss 1994, Moran and Stripp 1991), and verbal and nonverbal communication (Barnlund 1975, Gudykunst and Nishida 1994).

In the present study, the predictability of three personal characteristic variables (personal expectations, quality of family communication, and initiative/self confidence) and two skill factors (interpersonal skills and self assertion skills) on various measures of the American and Japanese manager's job performance, personal/family adjustment, and intercultural interactions provided the specific focus of the research.

Research on intercultural effectiveness has been undertaken from a variety of perspectives and methodologies (see Hammer 1989 and Martin 1989 for a review of this work). While some of the earliest work in the area can be characterized as primarily anecdotal accounts of the "effective" or "successful" sojourner, more recent work has adapted more empirically rigorous approaches to examining the personal characteristics of "effective sojourners" and the influence of social skills on intercultural adaptation and cross-cultural effectiveness (see reviews by Black and Mendenhall 1990, Hannigan 1990, Hammer 1989, Ruben 1989, Imahori and Lanigan 1989, Collier 1989, Martin and Hammer 1989, Hammer 1984, Landis and Brislin 1983 a, 1983 b, 1983c, Kealey and Ruben 1983, Dinges 1983, Furnham and Bochner 1982, Brislin 1981, Stening 1979, Benson 1978, Russell 1978, Hammer, Gudykunst and Wiseman 1978, Ruben, Askling and Kealey 1977, Ruben 1976, Brein and David 1971). …

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