On 25th July, The Dutch and Japanese Trade Federation (DUJAT) organized an event at Okura Hotel in Amsterdam Zuid. Thanks to this opportunity, Global Connect Admin B.V. was able to share some basic insights with all member companies and guests regarding cultural differences, especially regarding Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.
Culturally, Japan and Germany are considered rather masculine as a society and the Netherlands rather feminine. From culture-derived behaviours, Japan is considered reactive, Germany as linear-active and the Netherlands is also rather linear-active. What do these words meaning? Please read further herein.
This article is not to give any definite conclusion on any of the cultural differences between countries. In correspondence to the short presentation in the delightful event, this serves as an introductory hint to some tools and perspectives of looking at cultures and the differences therein.
The first tool is the Hofstede model on cultural dimensions: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-Term Orientation, Indulgence. It is worthy of mentioning to pinpoint the term of power distance as the inequalities being accepted by an organization and people involved on top of a simple existence of inequalities. An interesting definition on masculinity must be distinguished from the traditional sense of having muscles and being strong. This is term is used to depict a society being masculine or feminine. Being Masculine means that a society appreciates competition and ambition and being feminine implies that work and life should be balanced for personal well-being and happiness. (This model can be found at https://www.hofstede-insights.com/)
The second tool is the Lewis Model which shows the general characteristics of behaviours based on cultural profiles per country. Three general categories are described for cultures found in around 65 countries among company executives. This model makes use of a triangle of which the three corners represents linear-active, reactive, and multi-active. (More on this model at https://www.crossculture.com/the-lewis-model-dimensions-of-behaviour/)
However, it is very likely that an individual or a firm does not show consistence with the culture prescribed or behaviours defined based on nationalities. This may occur due to reasons of international background of a person or a firm, the family background or the event-induced changes. It is likely to see difference in behaviours from the same country spread over within the triangle, meaning no culture is purely linear-active, reactive or multi-active. Variance is also obvious across generations within a country, for instance, younger generation in Japan tend to pay less attention on competition and ambition compared with the older generation.
What are the possible actions to take when confronted with blurred questions arising out of culture differences? The first action that we, Global Connect Admin, will do to clients coming from an unknown background is to get to know each other. Start talking is the best way to familiarize with one another. If any culture related model is used, it is recommended to look for similarities or distinctions between the client and the known cultures.
The next step is to build trust. This step can be short or long depending on the acceptance of trust from both sides. It is equally important to take the other perspective into consideration and to inform the other side about the position that one is taking. Because trust should be mutually built. A key point to cut into the trust building process is to ascertain what are the specific purposes of each move or decision. This is useful in both scenarios: to ascertain own purposes for a clear strategy in negotiation or communication with clients and to ascertain the other’s purposes at each stage through the course of matter to speak to the other’s perspective. This process could require much more patience and explanations than usual.
Some practical ways have already been tried out by many firms, such as having an employee or a specialized consultant on board for the case. This might be useful in some cases and not helping in other cases. The reason behind is the variance in between individuals and firms from the same country.
The models mentioned in the beginning should be taken as a reference to learn a general hint of what could be expected when people from that region are clients. What needs more finesse of the person dealing with cultural differences is the sharpness in noticing how similar or different this individual or firm is to or from the general impression learned before.
In Global Connect Admin B.V., we value not only cultural differences but also individual variances. You can expect professional services from us regarding financial management from bookkeeping to consolidations, from due diligence to compliance. In between emails and services, you can also expect that we take your cultural characteristics and your individual preference very seriously.
Global Connect Admin B.V. | Xuan Hao