Comparsion Of Culture Of Japan And Canada

In the present study there is a deep study of the cultural values with the help of the two models. The culture of Japan and Canada has been discussed with the reference to the two models. The cultural values of the two countries have been elaborated under the two models. This analysis is a perfect example of cross cultural management as it helps to understand the employees in a better manner.


Culture is comprised of beliefs, objects, behaviours and other important characteristics that are common in a group of people living in a society. People define themselves with the help of cultural values. Culture represents many societal aspects such as values, customs, norms, rules, technologies, tools, products, institutions and organisations.

There are various functions of the Culture in society. It helps to provide a design for living. Cultural values are acquired and learned in a society. In a society, culture provides a set of pattern which helps people to meet their biological and social demands. A set of rules is provided by the culture that ensures the co-operation of group and individual and it helps to adjust in an environmental setting. Moreover, it helps the individual to understand different situations and provides him a definition of the situation. In a society, culture helps to understand and predict human behaviour and it provides the channels to interact with the individuals and groups (Kawar, 2012). A guidepost and map is provided by the Culture for all the activities of life. A behavioural pattern is provided by culture for individuals. Hence, it can be said that Culture act as a social control and this control is exercised through norms.

There are many models/Theoretical frameworks through which culture can be studied and these models help to understand cultural values (Earley, 2006). In the present study, the two important cultural models will be discussed.

The best model known to understand the culture is Hall Iceberg Model of Culture. It has been presented by Edward T. Hall in 1976. Edward was an American Anthropologist. In this model culture has been broken down into observable and unobservable components. In this model, culture has been described by taking an example of an iceberg.


                                   Source: (Pheng, 2002)

 In an iceberg, the tip of the iceberg represents 10% of the overall ice-berg. Similarly, the observable culture represents a small ratio of the culture that is seen or felt immediately, while interacting with people of other countries. As more time is spent with people, it helps to understand the cultural values in a better manner. In the figure above, it is shown that the upper visible layer of iceberg is observable and it represents the apparent characteristics. The next layer of iceberg is hidden and it represents the shallow culture. In this layer the unspoken rules and conceptual values are revealed (McSweeney, 2008). The next layer of the Iceberg cultural model represents a deep culture. In this layer, deep cultural values are rooted such as unconscious rules and emotional values at this level are intense. All these layers in the model are shaped and formed by the internal and forces with the passage of time. The iceberg cultural model defines that in order to understand the culture it is important to look upon the underlying values and perceptions of the society in detail.

Geert Hofstede is a social psychologist who has studied the culture deeply and has received numerous records and recognition for his intercultural work. His Cultural Dimension theory is an important contribution in this regard (Wu, 2006). This theory provides a systematic framework to assess the cultural differences among countries.

Geert Hofstede is a Dutch social psychologist and anthropologist who has studied the interactions between cultures. He has received numerous awards for his intercultural research all over the world. One of his most notable accomplishments is the establishment of the cultural dimension theory, which provides a systematic framework for assessing the differences between nations and cultures.

                            Source: (Bazerman, 2008)

In this theory value has been placed on the six important cultural dimensions such as Power, Collectism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity and indulgence. Hofstede conducted many surveys and gathered most of the data on global cultural values through US consulting firm IBM. A scoring system was proposed by him with the scale from 1 to 120. In the six dimensions of his theory he has described the different aspects of culture that exists in a country.

Cross Cultural Management is an understanding the differences between the cultures, preferences, and practices in an international environment. It is essential to understand these differences in order to effectively interact with people. In this regard, Hofstede Cultural Dimensions provides an effective framework to understand the cultural attributes and differences (Farhana & Islam, 2011). The first dimension of his theory Individualism/Collectivism analyses that up to which degree individuals integrate themselves in the groups. The second dimension of his theory Maculinism/Feminism focuses upon the distribution of the gender roles in a society. Uncertainty Avoidance analyses tolerance level of the society for ambiguity and uncertainty. Power Distance is an index that measures the feelings of people about the power distribution in a society. It is important to mention that in this dimension level of power distribution is not measured rather feelings about it are analysed. The time horizon of a particular society is described in the Long/Term Orientation. The last dimension of this theory measures the ability of culture to satisfy the personal needs and desires of people living in the society.

Every country in this world has its own cultural values and these cultural values determine the image and identity of that nation. In the present study the cultural difference of two different countries will be analysed in the light of the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions. The countries that will be analysed in the present study are Japan and Canada.

Canada has an individualistic culture and it has the highest score on this dimension. In the Canadian culture, people are loosely knitted with the individuals outside their family. People have little interdependence amongst each other. There is a high value of Self-reliance and egalitarianism. Canadians look after themselves and their immediate family members.  In Japan, there is collectivist culture. Groups are given more importance over individuals. If it is compared with the Asian culture, it is considered as an individualist, but in comparison with Canada it is considered as a collectivist culture (Murphy, 2009). Canada has been in a progressive mode from the last two decades and there is fast pace of life in the country. This has made the life of an average person a very busy life. People are more concerned about themselves and they have less time for others.

Japanese society has the characteristics of collectivist society. In comparison with the other Asian countries, Japan does not have an extended family system. This is a base of the collectivist society. Japan has been known as the paternalistic society. The family name is inherited to the son from the father. People are loyal to their groups, extended family and local community (Wagatsuma and Rosett, 1986). Japanese people are more reserved and private as compared to the other Asian people. Japan has undergone many wars and have a strategic geographical position in the world. This position and war like situations have made Japanese people more realist and peace loving (Weiming, 1996).

Canadian society is considered as a moderate Masculine society. Canadian people tend to give their best performance and want to excel at work and play. There is respect towards success, winning and achievement in the society. People like to have work-life balance and they want to enjoy with the family. Hence, it cannot be concluded that Canadians are not hard working as they strive to give their best performance in everything they do (Berry and Laponce, 1994).

Japan is considered as one of the most masculine societies in the world. There is a severe competition among the groups. Children learn to compete from a very young age and this competitive individual behaviour can be associated with the masculine culture. Japan has experienced many critical phases of disasters and this has made the Japanese nation more practical. They have become self-reliant and rely more on the hard work. They do not believe in leisure activities as they think it wastage of time (Sato and Cameron, 1999).

The dimension Unecrtainity Avoidance describes how people in a society deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity (Turan, 2015). In Canada people accept the uncertainty. This reflects that people are flexible towards new ideas and innovative products. They are willing to accept the new ideas, technology and products. They are tolerant towards opinions, ideas and freedom of expression is allowed and appreciated. People are less emotionally expressive and are not rule-oriented. Canada is a progressive state and believe in innovation.

Japan is one of the most uncertainty avoiding country. Most of the time country has serious threats of earthquakes, volcano eruptions and typhoons. The Japanese have learned to prepare themselves for all kinds of situations. This does not go to the emergency plans, but for all kinds of situations and every aspect of life. In Japan anything that is done maximum predictability is prescribed. There is an etiquette book and every kind of action and behaviour is prescribed in that book (Sato and Cameron, 1999).

This dimension of Hofstede theory explains that every society needs to maintain its link with the past and have to deal with the present and future challenges as well. Normative societies tend to maintain their old traditions and are suspicious about the change. Canada has a normative society and Canadian people are strongly concerned with the truth. They have  normative thinking and show great respect towards traditions and focus on the quick results.

Japan has been scored as the highest, according to Hofstede in terms of Long Term Orientation. The Japanese see life as a short moment and their idea about life is that what they do in this life is the best they can do. The concept of one God is not familiar to this nation. People live their life on the basis of their practical examples (Hofstede and Bond, 1984).

Socialisation is necessary for human beings and Indulgence is the ability of an individual of how he controls  himself, his impulses and desires (Assael, 2004). A weak control is known as an indulgence and a strong control is called Restraint. Canadian culture can be defined as Indulgent and people show high willingness to realise their desires and impulses. They enjoy the good life and place high importance on the activities that please them. People are optimistic and they have a positive attitude towards life.

Japan has a culture of restraint and not much emphasis is put on the leisure activities. People control their desires and they have a strong feeling that indulging themselves is something wrong. All individuals in a society are not equal and Power distance describes a cultural attitude towards inequalities. Power distance explains that inequality in the society is endorsed by the followers and the leaders equally.  In Canada there is an interdependent culture and a lot of value is placed on the Egalitarianism. There is a lack of class distinction in the society. Canadians are straightforward and believe in the open exchange of information. Canada has adopted this culture from its neighbour country USA. With the change envoirmnet, there is more focus on the open communication and open door policy (Hofstede, 1983).

Japan has a borderline society and Japanese are very conscious about their hierarchical position in the society. There is a slow decision making process and for foreigners, Japan seems to be extremely hierarchical. There is no one person that has to make a decision and it is responsible for the slow decision making. There is a strong meritocratic society in the Japan and people are born with the thinking that every person is equal in the society and can achieve anything in life with hard work (Ralston et al.,1997).

The cultures of the two countries will be analysed under the Iceberg model of Culture below.

Canada has a deep culture of individualism. People believe in open life style and that is visible in their life style. People believe in the religious values and they have a clear concept about life and death. This is known as a deep culture. There is a low sense of competition in the people and people believe in open communication among groups. Hierarchical levels are short and the decision making process is quick as there are less people to consult in a decision making. This is known as Shallow culture. The surface culture represents the open mindedness of people. Their attitude towards life is clear and they love to enjoy life (Hofstede and Bond, 1988).  

Japan has deep rooted cultural values and they do not believe in God. They think life as the little moment. They give a lot of importance to the history of mankind and live their life by following practical examples. There is a masculine society and the decision making process is very slow in the country. People believe in planned life and everything is planned and prescribed well in time (McKinnon, 2003). This is the deep culture of Japan. The shallow culture of Japan consists of their high sense of competition in the workplace. The Japanese have a serious attitude towards work. The Japanese believe in hard work and give high value of hard work. They are reserved in nature. Children are taught to lead a competitive life and they have to live an independent life. This is the shallow culture of Japan. The surface culture of Japan represents the high traditional values. They lead a balanced life and emphasis more on the clear rules and regulation (Piccolo et al., 2005).

In case of any business collaboration in both countries, it is important to consider the cultural values of both countries. The cultural values of a country determine the attributes of the employees and these attributes are important to understand in order to have good relations with the employees. Japanese employees tend to have good and strong ties with their employers. They are loyal to the companies. Japanese employees give their best in the companies and they believe in the excellence. There is a less presence of females in the offices as it is masculine society. A strong emphasis is put on the risk assessment of projects as they believe in the risk free investment. Japanese people have a pragmatic nature. They spent a lot of time in the feasibility study. In comparison with the Japanese employees Canadian employees are less dedicated. Canadian employees are open in communication and take less time in decision making. It is important that Canadian people must understand the hard working nature of their counterparts and strike a balance in the work-life in order to maintain a balance (Singh et al., 2005).

The analysis shows that culture is an important dimension of the society and it plays an important role in determining the attributes of an individual. The Culture of the nation determines the rules, regulations, values and lifestyle of people living in the society. The culture comprises the important dimension of an individual how to lead a good life and how to act at a workplace.  In this study, two countries and their cultural values has been analysed. These cultural values have been analysed with the help of two models. These models have helped to clearly indicate the attributes of two nations. It is clear that through this analysis, it is easy for an employer to understand the characteristics of the employees can deal them effectively. This is known as cross cultural management.




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