Japanese management Decision-Making


On Tuesday, June 17th, a cross-cultural management seminar, jointly organized by the Organization Sciences department and DUJAT (Dutch-Japanese Trade Federation), was held at VU University. The theme of this seminar was decision-making procedures in Japanese companies.

After the opening by Professor Peter Groenewegen and Geert Jan Mantel, Chairman of DUJAT, Wilfried Claus (program director for Innovation of HRM Strategy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) introduced the theme of the seminar by discussing his experiences working in various cross-cultural contexts (ASML, Teijin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

The first speaker, Mark Okamoto shared his experiences as CEO of Furukawa Rock Drill Europe B.V. he elaborated on the Japanese decision-making procedures of hanko, ringi and nemawashi. He concluded that the key to a good cross-cultural collaboration is respecting each other’s cultures and accepting the differences as they are.


Next, Julie Ferguson (Assistant Professor, dept. of organizational sciences, VU) talked about the role of knowledge and social networks in decision-making processes. By taking a look at a social networking perspective, Julie explained that knowledge is mostly shared through core persons in an organization. These do not necessarily have to be managers, but can be members of all organizational levels. Therefore, it is important to zoom in at the micro-level of practices.

Greetje Corporaal (PhD candidate, dept. of organizational sciences, VU ) talked about how people deal with differences in reporting and decision-making processes that take place in geographically dispersed and cross-cultural settings. She elaborated upon the boundaries that emerge in everyday collaborative work, and emphasized that differences cannot always be pre-ascribed to culture. By zooming in on the everyday processes and practices, we can better understand the origins of decision-making impediments and improve common understanding across cultures and contexts.

The last speaker, Willem Visser ‘t Hooft (Attorney at law, Japan Business Services), discussed the legal and cultural differences between Japanese and Dutch companies, and the problems and challenges that they create. He also elaborated on his personal experiences, working as a lawyer in Dutch-Japanese settings for 14 years.

Radboud Molijn (Managing Director DUJAT), and moderator Wilfried Claus led the interactive discussion at the end of the seminar, which were followed with networking drinks.

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