Academic journal article Management International Review

Cross-National Cognitive Process Differences: A Comparison of Canadian, American and Japanese Managers

Academic journal article Management International Review

Cross-National Cognitive Process Differences: A Comparison of Canadian, American and Japanese Managers

Article excerpt

Canada, the United Sates and Japan are extremely important trading partners for each other. The United States and Japan are the two largest trading partners of Canada (Partners in Prosperity 1990). Canada and Japan are the two largest trading partners of the United States (Partners in Prosperity 1990). The United States is the largest trading partner of Japan (Encarnation 1992).

Cultural distance or dissimilarity affects the ability of managers to be effective in foreign markets. Cultural distance is the difference between culture, language and social structure (Root 1987) that affects managers' perceptions of what should constitute culturally appropriate behavior in a foreign market (Adler, Doktor, and Redding 1986).

Comparative management research has traditionally focused on value, attitude and management practice differences that contribute to cultural distance and that seem to affect the work interaction of managers from different cultures (Lane and DiStefano 1992). Many studies have compared American and Japanese managers for variance in values and attitudes that could be attributed to national culture (Stening and Hammer 1992, Kelly, Whatley, and Worthley 1987, Omens, Jenner, and Beatty 1987, Sullivan, Teruhiko, and Kondo 1987, England and Misumi 1986, Hofstede 1980). Values are defined as preferences or standards against which to judge acts and goals (Hofstede 1980, Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck 1961). Attitudes are the expressions of particular values, or sets of values, applied to specific situations.

It has been common to assume that Canadian and American managers were culturally similar (Root 1987). This assumption seems to have been based on a number of early studies indicating that Canadian and American values and attitudes converged within similar clusters (Hofstede 1980, Ronen and Kraut 1977). Canadians were expected to face similar difficulties to Americans in their interactions with Japanese, and relatively few difficulties interacting with Americans.

Several recent studies have challenged this view demonstrating that samples of Canadian and American retailing managers significantly differ on all four of Hofstede's work value scales (Evans, Lane, and O'Grady 1992, O'Grady and Lane 1992). O'Grady (1991) also reported that Canadians were less willing to take business risks and had a lower need for achievement. Evans, Lane, and O'Grady (1992) suggest that culture forms an unexpected barrier between Canadians and Americans that does affect their business interaction.

A Cognitive Process Model

The current emphasis on values and attitudes research has probably been a function of defining culture as a set of value and attitude preferences (Hofstede 1980, Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck 1961). An alternative, developed by cognitive anthropologists, has defined culture as a cognitive system of knowledge and beliefs (Chikudate 1991). By this definition, culture is a consistent pattern of perceiving, relating and interpreting information that affects individual and group behavior (Goodenough 1964). Strauss (1992) adds that cognitive systems include linked patterns of thought and feelings.

Schutz and Luckmann (1974) have proposed that a strong link exists between cognitive process and culture. Cognitive processes are based on authoritative cultural standards that individuals within a culture do not question because the cognitive processes help them be successful by making their behavior consistent with other members of the culture (Schutz and Luckmann 1974). These cognitive processes are also normative and behavior deemed to be too inappropriate is sanctioned (Holland and Quinn 1987). While individuals do exercise free will in relation to their cultural norms, their cognitive processes are strongly influenced by their cultural background (Berger and Luckmann 1967).

Scheler (1980) has stated that socialization within a culture results in individuals accepting a binding set of problem solving preferences that will affect interaction between members of different cultures. …

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