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What about Germany? What about Japan?

If we explore the German culture through the lens If we explore Japanese culture through the lens of
of the 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of the 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of
the deep drivers of German culture relative to the deep drivers of Japanese culture relative to
other world cultures. other world cultures.

Power Distance Power Distance


This dimension deals with the fact that all This dimension deals with the fact that all
individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses
the attitude of the culture towards these the attitude of the culture towards these
inequalities amongst us. Power Distance is defined inequalities amongst us. Power Distance is defined
as the extent to which the less powerful members as the extent to which the less powerful members
of institutions and organisations within a country of institutions and organisations within a country
expect and accept that power is distributed expect and accept that power is distributed
unequally. unequally.

Highly decentralised and supported by a strong At an intermediate score of 54, Japan is a


middle class, Germany is not surprisingly among borderline hierarchical society. Yes, Japanese are
the lower power distant countries (score 35). Co- always conscious of their hierarchical position in
determination rights are comparatively extensive any social setting and act accordingly. However, it
and have to be taken into account by the is not as hierarchical as most of the other Asian
management. A direct and participative cultures. Some foreigners experience Japan as
communication and meeting style is common, extremely hierarchical because of their business
control is disliked and leadership is challenged to experience of painstakingly slow decision making
show expertise and best accepted when it’s based process: all the decisions must be confirmed by
on it. each hierarchical layer and finally by the top
management in Tokyo. Paradoxically, the exact
example of their slow decision making process
shows that in Japanese society there is no one top
guy who can take decision like in more hierarchical
societies. Another example of not so high Power
Distance is that Japan has always been a
meritocratic society. There is a strong notion in the
Japanese education system that everybody is born
equal and anyone can get ahead and become
anything if he (yes, it is still he) works hard
enough.

Individualism Individualism
The fundamental issue addressed by this The fundamental issue addressed by this
dimension is the degree of interdependence a dimension is the degree of interdependence a
society maintains among its members. It has to do society maintains among its members. It has to do
with whether people´s self-image is defined in with whether people´s self-image is defined in
terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies
people are supposed to look after themselves and people are supposed to look after themselves and
their direct family only. In Collectivist societies their direct family only. In Collectivist societies
people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them
in exchange for loyalty. in exchange for loyalty.

The German society is a truly Individualist one Japan scores 46 on the Individualism dimension.
(67). Small families with a focus on the parent- Certainly Japanese society shows many of the
children relationship rather than aunts and uncles characteristics of a collectivistic society: such as
are most common. There is a strong belief in the putting harmony of group above the expression of
ideal of self-actualization. Loyalty is based on individual opinions and people have a strong sense
personal preferences for people as well as a sense of shame for losing face. However, it is not as
of duty and responsibility. This is defined by the collectivistic as most of her Asian neighbours. The
contract between the employer and the employee. most popular explanation for this is that Japanese
Communication is among the most direct in the society does not have extended family system
world following the ideal to be “honest, even if it which forms a base of more collectivistic societies
hurts” – and by this giving the counterpart a fair such as China and Korea. Japan has been a
chance to learn from mistakes. paternalistic society and the family name and asset
was inherited from father to the eldest son. The
younger siblings had to leave home and make their
own living with their core families. One seemingly
paradoxal example is that Japanese are famous for
their loyalty to their companies, while Chinese
seem to job hop more easily. However, company
loyalty is something, which people have chosen for
themselves, which is an Individualist thing to do.
You could say that the Japanese in-group is
situational. While in more collectivistic culture,
people are loyal to their inner group by birth, such
as their extended family and their local
community. Japanese are experienced as
collectivistic by Western standards and
experienced as Individualist by Asian standards.
They are more private and reserved than most
other Asians.

Masculinity Masculinity
A high score (Masculine) on this dimension A high score (Masculine) on this dimension
indicates that the society will be driven by indicates that the society will be driven by
competition, achievement and success, with competition, achievement and success, with
success being defined by the winner / best in field success being defined by the winner / best in field
– a value system that starts in school and – a value system that starts in school and
continues throughout organisational life. continues throughout organisational life.

A low score (Feminine) on the dimension means A low score (Feminine) on the dimension means
that the dominant values in society are caring for that the dominant values in society are caring for
others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one
where quality of life is the sign of success and where quality of life is the sign of success and
standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The
fundamental issue here is what motivates people, fundamental issue here is what motivates people,
wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what
you do (Feminine). you do (Feminine).
With a score of 66 Germany is considered a At 95, Japan is one of the most Masculine societies
Masculine society. Performance is highly valued in the world. However, in combination with their
and early required as the school system separates mild collectivism, you do not see assertive and
children into different types of schools at the age competitive individual behaviors which we often
of ten. People rather “live in order to work” and associate with Masculine culture. What you see is
draw a lot of self-esteem from their tasks. a severe competition between groups. From very
Managers are expected to be decisive and young age at kindergartens, children learn to
assertive. Status is often shown, especially by cars, compete on sports day for their groups
watches and technical devices. (traditionally red team against white team).
In corporate Japan, you see that employees are
most motivated when they are fighting in a
winning team against their competitors. What you
also see as an expression of Masculinity in Japan is
the drive for excellence and perfection in their
material production (monodukuri) and in material
services (hotels and restaurants) and presentation
(gift wrapping and food presentation) in every
aspect of life. Notorious Japanese workaholism is
another expression of their Masculinity. It is still
hard for women to climb up the corporate ladders
in Japan with their Masculine norm of hard and
long working hours.

Uncertainty Avoidance Uncertainty Avoidance


The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do
with the way that a society deals with the fact that with the way that a society deals with the fact that
the future can never be known: should we try to the future can never be known: should we try to
control the future or just let it happen? This control the future or just let it happen? This
ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different
cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in
different ways. The extent to which the members different ways. The extent to which the members
of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or
unknown situations and have created beliefs and unknown situations and have created beliefs and
institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in
the score on Uncertainty Avoidance. the score on Uncertainty Avoidance.

Germany is among the uncertainty avoidant At 92 Japan is one of the most uncertainty
countries (65); the score is on the high end, so avoiding countries on earth. This is often
there is a slight preference for Uncertainty attributed to the fact that Japan is constantly
Avoidance. In line with the philosophical heritage threatened by natural disasters from earthquakes,
of Kant, Hegel and Fichte there is a strong tsunamis (this is a Japanese word used
preference for deductive rather than inductive internationally), typhoons to volcano eruptions.
approaches, be it in thinking, presenting or Under these circumstances Japanese learned to
planning: the systematic overview has to be given prepare themselves for any uncertain situation.
in order to proceed. This is also reflected by the This goes not only for the emergency plan and
law system. Details are equally important to create precautions for sudden natural disasters but also
certainty that a certain topic or project is well- for every other aspects of society. You could say
thought-out. In combination with their low Power that in Japan anything you do is prescribed for
Distance, where the certainty for own decisions is maximum predictability. From cradle to grave, life
not covered by the larger responsibility of the is highly ritualized and you have a lot of
boss, Germans prefer to compensate for their ceremonies. For example, there is opening and
higher uncertainty by strongly relying on expertise. closing ceremonies of every school year which are
conducted almost exactly the same way
everywhere in Japan. At weddings, funerals and
other important social events, what people wear
and how people should behave are prescribed in
great detail in etiquette books. School teachers
and public servants are reluctant to do things
without precedence. In corporate Japan, a lot of
time and effort is put into feasibility studies and all
the risk factors must be worked out before any
project can start. Managers ask for all the detailed
facts and figures before taking any decision. This
high need for Uncertainty Avoidance is one of the
reasons why changes are so difficult to realize in
Japan.

Long Term Orientation Long Term Orientation

This dimension describes how every society has to This dimension describes howevery society has to
maintain some links with its own past while maintain some links with its own past while
dealing with the challenges of the present and dealing with the challenges of the present and
future, and societies prioritise these two future, and societies prioritise these two
existential goals differently. Normative societies. existential goals differently. Normative societies.
which score low on this dimension, for example, which score low on this dimension, for example,
prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions and prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions and
norms while viewing societal change with norms while viewing societal change with
suspicion. Those with a culture which scores high, suspicion. Those with a culture which scores high,
on the other hand, take a more pragmatic on the other hand, take a more pragmatic
approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in
modern education as a way to prepare for the modern education as a way to prepare for the
future. future.

Germany's high score of 83 indicates that it is a At 88 Japan scores as one of the most Long Term
pragmatic country. In societies with a pragmatic Orientation oriented societies. Japanese see their
orientation, people believe that truth depends life as a very short moment in a long history of
very much on situation, context and time. They mankind. From this perspective, some kind of
show an ability to adapt traditions easily to fatalism is not strange to the Japanese. You do
changed conditions, a strong propensity to save your best in your life time and that is all what you
and invest, thriftiness, and perseverance in can do. Notion of the one and only almighty God is
achieving results. not familiar to Japanese. People live their lives
guided by virtues and practical good examples. In
corporate Japan, you see long term orientation in
the constantly high rate of investment in R&D
even in economically difficult times, higher own
capital rate, priority to steady growth of market
share rather than to a quarterly profit, and so on.
They all serve the durability of the companies. The
idea behind it is that the companies are not here
to make money every quarter for the share
holders, but to serve the stake holders and society
at large for many generations to come (e.g.
Matsuhista).

Indulgence Indulgence

One challenge that confronts humanity, now and One challenge that confronts humanity, now and
in the past, is the degree to which small children in the past, is the degree to which small children
are socialized. Without socialization we do not are socialized. Without socialization we do not
become “human”. This dimension is defined as the become “human”. This dimension is defined as the
extent to which people try to control their desires extent to which people try to control their desires
and impulses, based on the way they were raised. and impulses, based on the way they were raised.
Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and
relatively strong control is called “Restraint”. relatively strong control is called “Restraint”.
Cultures can, therefore, be described as Indulgent Cultures can, therefore, be described as Indulgent
or Restrained. or Restrained.

The low score of 40 on this dimension indicates Japan, with a low score of 42, is shown to have a
that the German culture is Restrained in nature. culture of Restraint. Societies with a low score in
Societies with a low score in this dimension have a this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and
tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in pessimism. Also, in contrast to Indulgent societies,
contrast to Indulgent societies, Restrained Restrained societies do not put much emphasis on
societies do not put much emphasis on leisure leisure time and control the gratification of their
time and control the gratification of their desires. desires. People with this orientation have the
People with this orientation have the perception perception that their actions are Restrained by
that their actions are Restrained by social norms social norms and feel that indulging themselves is
and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat somewhat wrong.
wrong.

Scores of countries marked with an asterisk (*) are


- partially or fully - not from Geert Hofstede but

Germany has extraordinary cultural similarities to Japan


.
A German will feel very much at ease in Japan.
As we can see, Germans and Japanese share similar values in regards to
Long Term Orientation, Indulgence, and Uncertainty Avoidance.
A German will appreciate the orderly nature of Japan. They will also appreciate the great service they receive.
Germans are restrained, just like Japanese, and therefore
will fit in well to a Japanese work environment.
Likewise, a Japanese expatriate in Germany will be able to
assimilate themselves very well to the work environment.
Both cultures place a huge importance on punctuality. Germans will love the train systems in Japan.
However, it is my belief that Germans will love the train systems
but they also expect the train systems to be as orderly as they are.
A British expatriate in Japan is going to be more surprised at the train system
because the UK typically has bad punctuality in regards to public transport (particularly the London Underground).
Germany is a Masculine society like Japan but it has a different sense of success. Success is individually-
driven and status is important.
This contrast might not be something the German expatriate likes about Japan.
Overall, it would seem that
Germans have less to prepare themselves for in terms of culture shock.