IAP2M Seminar Report: Prof. Emiko Magoshi on "Cross-cultural Management in Japan" and Prof. Toshihiko Kinoshita on "Japanese Software Industry and Human Resource Management"
Takahiro MIYAO (Professor and Head, Japanese Institute of Global Communications, IUJ)
|[International Assciation of Project and Program Management] Special Seminar: February Meeting|
|Date/Time:||February 17 (Sat)|
|Place:||Nippon Institute of Technology, Kanda Campus|
||14:00 - 15:00|
Speaker: Emiko MAGOSHI (Professor, Obirin University)
Topic: "Frontiers of Cross-cultural Management in Japan"
Q&A and Free Discussion
15:00 - 16:00
Speaker: Toshihiko KINOSHITA (Professor, Waseda University)
Topic: "Japanese IT Software Industry and Human Resource Management"
Q&A and Free Discussion
|Organizer:|| IAP2M (www.iap2m.jp), International Group|
A special P2M seminar on international management, organized by Prof. Toshihiko Kinoshita, was held at Nippon Institute of Technology on February 17. There were two speakers; Prof. Emiko Magoshi of Obirin University and Prof. Toshihiko Kinoshita of Waseda University. Summaries of their presentations are as follows:
1. Summary of Prof. Magoshi on "Frontiers of Cross-cultural Management in Japan"
Professor Magoshi first pointed out that there has recently been a "paradigm shift" from closed "mono-cultural" management to open "multi-cultural" management with global mind for best practices. However, there may be some conflicts between "cultural relativity" and "management universality," and the most notable example is a difference in business norms between Japanese-style and Anglo Saxon-style management, where cross-cultural management (more appropriately, "trans-cultural" management) should play an important role.
She emphasized the concept of "cultural synergy" in cross-cultural management to create positive values by facilitating creativity and flexibility, far exceeding the cost of managing heterogeneous people with different cultural backgrounds. For this purpose, it is important to educate and train business people in communication in the multi-cultural environment, where the principles of communication are respect, integrity, confidence and speed. The most important point is that communication is possible not just through languages, but by sharing a clear set of values among all members, a point which is often missed by Japanese companies in the multi-cultural environment.
Finally, Professor Magoshi explained recent developments in university education, company training as well as professional research in this field, specifically referring to Transcultural Management Society, which she herself has created. In conclusion, Professor Magoshi reiterated the importance of education and training to produce internationally competitive individuals with high CQ (Cultural Intelligence Quotient) based on native Japanese strengths such as a sense of balance and "wa" in the global context.
Reference: "Emiko Magoshi's Official Website"
2. Summary of Prof. Kinoshita on "Japanese IT Software Industry and Human Resource Management"
First, Professor Kinoshita explained some peculiar characteristics of Japan's IT software industry. While the software market in Japan has been expanding steadily due to the information revolution, it remains to be isolated from the global business environment, almost completely opposite to India's software industry (although India's software companies have their own weaknesses). Japan's IT software houses depend heavily on their keiretsu companies in the service industry such as financial institutions and cell phone companies with stable orders, but often need to make almost endless modifications for free in response to clients' demand. As a result, the software industry is said to be "growing without profit," as the Japanese economy has been recovering, and many of the software houses are barely surviving simply by working hard, cutting costs and using Chinese companies as subcontractors, with no time or money left for training professional staff as well as managerial personnel from the long-term viewpoint.
There appears to be no way out of this vicious circle in Japan's software industry, as a global strategy of the Indian type could not work in the case of Japan with very few people having enough English proficiency and managerial ability for international business in the first place. So, a more practical approach is needed for human resource management in Japan's software industry. According to Professor Kinoshita, one possibility is to adopt the P2M (Project and Program Management) approach to train engineers and managers so that they can seek "total (or overall) optimization" in a systematic way while considering cost cutting, offshoring, risk management, etc. at the same time, instead of focusing on a single, often one-shot, project for "partial (or local) optimization." With the help of the P2M approach, hopefully, Japan's software industry will be able to increase domestically oriented customers and enhance product/service values by reducing costs and combining software with hardware in creative ways.
After Prof. Kinoshita's presentation, various questions were raised by participants. One fundamental question is whether Japan can afford not to take a "global" approach for long-term survival. Further discussions are planned on this topic at the P2M Spring Meetings on April 27.
Kinoshita Paper (in Japanese), UNISYS TECHNOLOGY REVIEW, Feb. 2007:
"Toshihiko Kinoshita's Homepage"
International Association of P2M Website (English):
For a Japanese summary of this activity report, see the following blog: