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Closing a Deal in Japan

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One of your firm's U.S. managers just returned from business meetings in Japan without having closed the business deal for which he was sent. When you spoke about it together, he said that he was sure the Japanese counterparts would sign the contract at the end because they had been so pleasant up until that point, but they said they regrettably would not do so that time without offering much explanation. He said that the Japanese company members spent a week discussing it at meetings and although it was not unanimous, most people seemed on board with the deal. The leaders nodded at him a lot, laughed at anything funny he said, and constantly invited him out for drinks or golf. He turned down most of the social times but enjoyed the positive feelings he felt from the group. Despite the leadership group's hesitancy to make any commitment, he felt he was getting close to a deal. Things were going so well, in fact, that he moved his flight up 2 days to get home sooner. When he told the Japanese team his new schedule, beyond a startled expression on a couple of faces, nothing seemed amiss. The final day, just an hour before he left, he realized that what he thought was a "done deal" was not going to close.

What happened? Explain cultural differences that caused misperception and a lack of effective business dealing. What personal qualities, approaches, and techniques could have helped the American businessman communicate better with Japanese businesspeople? What approaches and personal attributes assist in cross-cultural business communication in any country? You may relate and draw from personal business experience as well as course materials.

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The manager had no idea how the Japanese do business and no understanding of the culture of business in Japan. The first mistake was to assume politeness was agreement. The Japanese will go out of their way to not say no. This is part of their goal of harmonious relations and the cultural ideal of face. The members of the company would ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses closing a deal in Japan.

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