Many people wonder how two major Western style economies can have such completely different management styles, because Japan and the United States are completely different from one another. However these differences also stem from a much different corporate culture which allows for these very different management styles to work. Read on to see what some of the largest differences are.
Anyone who has worked overseas understands how different management cultures and styles can be. While the Japanese and American economies stand among the largest in the world, the management style between the two couldn't be more different. Part of this can be traced to the contrasting cultures of Japan and the United States, while other differences are rooted in disparate management philosophies. Loyalty in Japan to the corporation is huge, but that is also due to the fact that corporations recruit with the intention of providing a job for the worker for their entire working life, a loyalty that doesn't exist at all in the United States, which is a major reason why Japanese workers are more loyal and productive than their American counterparts on average.
Experience Range vs. Efficient Execution
A manger's resume in the United States featuring several management-level jobs with various companies reads well. Experience and range of skills are extremely important. However, in Japan it is far more important for a manager to know how his firm runs things and to efficiently execute his corporation's policies. There is no need for originality or new ideas, while this innovation is treasured among American managers. When choosing between the two, experience will often win out for an American manager while efficiency rules for the Japanese manager.
The largest difference between the American and Japanese work settings is job security. When a Japanese worker is hired with a company, she often assumes it's a lifelong job. Even economic downturns often result in more training, as opposed to unemployment. On the other side, long-term job security in the United States is scarce at best. This setup allows extreme loyalty to managers from their workers in Japan, while managing American workers who don't have that security or reason to be loyal can be difficult. When a company has a very bad quarter in Japan, bonuses are slashed and warehouses are slashed, jobs are a last resort to cut. Obviously in an American company the CEO bonuses never get cut nowadays.
Skills vs. Personality
Both American and Japanese management styles call for finding "the right man," but the definition of this is different in each company. For American management this means credentials, resume, experience and similar measurable values. However, many Japanese firms judge not on simply what an applicant has to offer, but on how they actually judge that person. Many hiring managers at Japanese firms look for certain personalities or personality traits which will allow them to fit in with that firm's company culture. These are two starkly different ways to judge and manage hiring new workers, but the style can be incredibly effective, especially in a culture like Japan which allows companies to build for the long term knowing skills can keep being taught but they need to keep their solid core of workers.