Corporate Communications: A Comparison of Japanese and American Practices

By William V. Ruch | Go to book overview

5
Organizational and Cultural Influences on Japanese Corporate Communication

Communication in the Japanese firm is integrated totally into all corporate operations. There is nobody with sole responsibility for communication--a manager, corporate communication. The responsibility for communicating is charged to every single employee. As we shall see, it is at the lower levels of the organization where communication is the most intensive. From there it travels in an upward direction.

Certain aspects of Japanese corporate life influence considerably the communication that takes place in a firm. Some of them have already been discussed: group activity and lifetime employment. Others will be discussed in this chapter: decision making and quality circles.

In addition, qualities of the Japanese culture have an inevitable effect on Japanese corporate communication. These include the complex nature of the Japanese language and a cultural awareness of and dependence on nonverbal communication. We begin this chapter by discussing these.


LANGUAGE

The Japanese language is one of the most unusual in the world. Yale historian John W. Hall has said, " Japan is the only true world power that does not have a 'world language.' . . . In many ways Japan remains the most culturally distinct and intellectually inaccessible of the great powers and this fact impedes greatly the exchange of ideas and sentiments with the rest of the world."1

Only Korean is strikingly related to the Japanese language. Japanese is kin also to the Ural-Altaic (Mongolian, Manchu, Turkic) and the Po-

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