Academic journal article Multinational Business Review

Motives, Goals and Intercultural Experience of Business Executives

Academic journal article Multinational Business Review

Motives, Goals and Intercultural Experience of Business Executives

Article excerpt

With the aid of 50 Australian and Japanese business executives, this study set out to investigate the intercultural experience of business people. Another objective is to analyse their initial motives and subsequent goals during intercultural interaction. Generally, the Australians appear to be more independent and emotional concerning their motives and goals than the Japanese. The Japanese initial motivation and subsequent goals reflects what has already been reported about Japanese commitment to work. While the Australians' motives and goals transcends business, the Japanese's are almost exclusively concentrates on business. The result raises the question whether our Australian sample fit the stereotype of individualistic, unemotional western people. In many ways, the experience of the respondents confirm the stereotype the Australians and Japanese have of each other. The implications of the findings have been discussed.


In this paper we will demonstrate through review of literature and empirical evidence how culture can be a source of misunderstanding and conflict between people living and working in each others country. A sample of Japanese and Australian business executives will be used to accomplish this objective. The issue of goals and motives regarding cross-cultural encounter is important especially because they can influence the nature of the process and outcome of the interaction. Another aim of the paper therefore, is to compare the motives and goals of Japanese and Australian managers and discuss their implications. We believe that the cultural backgrounds of expatriates would influence their motives and goals during cross-cultural encounter which will in turn influence the outcome of the interaction. As an exploratory study, we use diagram 1 below to depict the possible relationship that can exist between cultural orientations, goals, motives and the process and outcome of intercultural interaction.

Cultural Similarities and Differences between Australians and Japanese

In this section, we will compare and contrast some of the subtle cultural differences between Australians and Japanese as observed by some researchers (e.g Barnlund, 1989; 1975; Buchbinder, 1994; Chie, 1977; Fuery, 1994; Hilmer, 1990; Renwick, 1991; Singer, 1973).

Social Relations

On social relations, Renwick (1991) observed that Australians, unlike many of their counterparts in the west search for ways to collaborate with competition rather than seek to beat it. This is because the historical conditions in Australia encourage fellowship rather than followership. Similar, but not identical, to Japanese, they distaste any indication of wanting to set oneself up as superior to one's fellows.

According to Barnlund (1989: 117), "permanently secure within the primary group, supported without qualification at every transition in life, a Japanese has little need to extend himself socially, to seek and cultivate an endless series of friends to replenish those who make up his social circle". In Australia on the other hand, friendship (mateship) is highly valued. The historical background of Australians where men were brought from mother England and left to fend for themselves in an inhospitable land has created bondage among men which can still be observed today (Renwick, 1991: 32). According to Buchbinder (1994), maleto-male affinity of mateship is a feature of Australian culture.


Renwick argues that Australian dialect is a mixture of imaginative metaphor and swearing. For example, the word "bastard" is often loosely used by many Australians. Thus, if a Japanese interprets the meaning of everything an Australian says literally, the potential for Intercultural conflict is likely to be very high. But like Japanese, Australian language does not provide insight into class that language does in the US and Britain. …

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