Japanese-American Exchange Program Heralds Great Knowledge-Sharing
Recently, Randstad USA hosted an internal International Exchange Program with its Japanese colleagues. The experience, which incorporated tactical learning, office visits and shadowing, also included a visit to a local Walmart, per request, and a trip to a Texas steakhouse.
While the visitors noted some clear cultural differences, specifically when it came to women in the workplace and the variety of people and practices that are acceptable, they also found a lot of common grounds with their American hosts. For instance, they too love a good steak and they enjoy socializing via Facebook. They also like to play a round of golf on the weekends and can’t turn down a Michael Jackson hit.
Have a look at some of their post-program replies:
What was your favorite meal in the U.S.?
- My favorite meal was surely the steak. It was so delicious.
- My favorite meal was beef and whisky cake.
- My favorite meal was actually the duck. It was the best. My second favorite was the shrimp with bacon.
What was your favorite part of the U.S.?
- My favorite part is the humanity!
- Everyone talks a lot!
- My favorite part of the U.S. is the open mindedness and the culture of open discussion.
What are the biggest differences between life in the U.S. and life in Japan?
- The motivation. The word “time is money” is not as common in Japan. And there are cultural differences about changing jobs.
- Heavy traffic. It was very surprising that it was heavy even in the early morning.
- Female participation. There are many female managers working very actively in the U.S. They don’t have to be like men, every female manager has their own style, and it is accepted.
What is your favorite meal in Japan? Your favorite TV show, movie or song?
- My favorite singer is Michael Jackson and my favorite song is “Beat it.”
- My favorite meal is ramen, especially tomato ramen. It is very delicious.
- My favorite meal is yakiniku. It is Japanese-style BBQ!
What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
- Play golf and sing karaoke.
- I enjoy skiing in the winter season and going shopping or sightseeing. I don’t like to stay home.
- Play with my son in the yard.
What social networks do you belong to?
US-Japan Culture Comparison
The Western Washington University did a comparison chart on the U.S. and Japan. From a culture founded in modesty and humility to the land of the free and the outspoken, Japan and America definitely have a different approach when it comes to socializing and how they conduct themselves in business situations.
- Communication style. The ideal way to communicate in the U.S. is to be direct and clear about the issue at hand and where you stand. In Japan, messages must be artfully crafted, indirect and complemented by non-verbal cues.
- Conflict. In the U.S., conflict is seen as inevitable and a way to bring about positive change. The Japanese view conflict as dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Harmony is the ultimate social ideal.
- Making friends. It is common in the U.S. to call someone a friend after a first encounter. People of all ages, principles and backgrounds are potential friends. That is not the case in Japan where friendship is a gradual process that happens over time. To make a friend, one usually must become socially connected with another and spend time nurturing mutual feelings and trust.
Perhaps the greatest highlight from Randstad’s, albeit small, exchange program of six is that in today’s world it is so common to be exposed to people of a different race, culture and belief system – and to have an enjoyable experience while doing so.
As the world continues to become more networked – which is getting easier and easier given the technological advances that we’re privy to – business practices, company cultures and the greater global economy in general will assimilate like never before.
Have you ever been part of a business exchange program before? If so, what was your experience like?