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Basis of negotiations in Japan

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  1. Presentation of PPR and Puma
  2. Presentation of the operation
  3. Decision and Executive Summary

There are some key concepts in the Japanese corporate culture that have to be incorporated by foreign entities in order to succeed in that environment. They will help you better understand what is happening with your Japanese partners, for example, silence in business meetings, or seemingly schizophrenic behavior which is signified by very rigid contacts during times of work, but is completely crazy during informal situations. We can represent the situation in five basic concepts which are divided into two logical groups.
Group I: Ba, Ma, Wa

Ba means "the place". In business, this translates into good behavior in the right place, for example, a foreigner working in Japan may be invited to have a drink with a Japanese partner. After the first drink, the Japanese begins to act in a way that corresponds more to the personality he has hinted at during the meetings. Failing to comprehend the nuances of the Japanese culture, the foreigner concludes the behavior of the Japanese businessman to be strange and decides it's best to keep his distance from him in the future.

Seen from the Japanese perspective, formal occasions require formal behavior. But you can unwind in the informal situations, especially after a glass or two. Work and pleasure are separate concepts, and there is appropriate behavior for each situation. If the foreigner distances himself from the Japanese businessman the next day onwards, the Japanese might think that the gesture at the friendly relationship he proposed has been rejected.

Knowing that the ?ba' dictates behavior, then continue the relationship. As a foreigner and a representative of your company, do not be rude to your host. This does not require you to be as delusional as your partner. You can keep a certain reserve, drink moderately, but if you remain too remote, or if you do not "let go", then it might be perceived that you have something to hide. When you find yourself at work the next day, do not bring up the events of the night before, except a brief thanks for the good times shared.

Ma means "time" or "space". If you push the negotiations when it requires a break, your motivation and ultimately you become an object of suspicion in their eyes. Two examples:

1) You negotiate with a Japanese company. In the middle of a meeting, the members of the Japanese team begin to talk among themselves in their language, and it takes about ten minutes. You have no idea what is happening and no one gives you an explanation. What the Japanese delegation is doing is taking time to decide among them. They use this time to make a "real time" decision while they negotiate with you, which is not traditionally a part of their business culture. To do this, they should seek the opinion of each member of their group and reach consensus quickly. To an outsider, this may seem very rude. The worst thing you can do, of course, would be to show any signs of restlessness or tell them off.

Tags: Japanese corporate culture, concept of work in Japanese business, business etiquette

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