The success of the organization depends on the right people at the right place, otherwise there is always a danger to the reputation of the organization and Akita Motorcycle company is no exception.
Mr. Christoper's Wilson, Vice president and Marketing Director, may appointed through “Family linked” business oriented business as well his Americanized' business style was very straightforward, stereotype, highly unconventional, and have rustic attitude towards the Japanese, his joint venture counterpart. The question to dwell on is whether he is the right man for the job? His style of leadership was ‘laissez-fair' which allowed employees to choose what they want. By delegating his work to Mr. Sendai, Ms. Fiona, Ms. Janice, there was minimum control he exercised and freedom was given to the employees. He highly illustrated this attribute which is demonstrated by discussion on issues relating to frustration of Japanese worker on working hour issues and the Mr. Sendai's showroom slide show.
Another key figure of the company is Mr. Sendai who is highly respectable by the Japanese workers. A highly qualified and experienced chief engineer, seems to be calm, peaceful, steadfast traditional values, Buddha-like character and sizeable physical strength.
His foster group work which involved exercise and ceremonial song demonstrates paternalism leadership style. As a leader, he demonstrated father like figure towards his followers.
One of the main reason of the culture conflict between workforce was the practice of mono- cultural Japanese management techniques in the Production factory. The conflict regarding wages leaded to conflict in leadership styles and cultural variation between Mr. Sendai and Mr. Christopher, which left the problem unsolved, hence de-moralised the Japanese workforce.
As the behavior, values and beliefs are distinct across cultures, potential clashes occurs.
Leadership shortcomings and recommendations as solution to these drawbacks are as follows:
o Wilson Ltd opted for the joint venture because of panick of loosing the market share due to Japanese superior technology. The joint venture strategy added the competitive edge and value to Wilson Ltd. but management failed to do extensive research on people, culture, human interaction , organisation structure, leadership style and work norms.
o The leadership identifies language as the only culture difference conflict. However, faiked to realise that culture difference is just like “peeling of an onion”, where first layer comprised of languages and foods, the other entails strategies, goals, philosophies along with invincible and unconscious to human perception. The examination of all such differences were important.
o Thirdly, as the company grew and new multi-cultural workforce was hired, human resources were poorly managed. In fact, there was no human resource department as per the case study; the staff conflicts were discussed by top level management only. The set up of HR division will reduce the cultural barriers gap or variations through training programs or job rotation among workers. These practices can encourage biculturals learning experience. Ms. Fiona's role needs to be revived by HR so that she have more enriching experience then by an interpreter only.
o Mr. Christopher needs to harness his understanding of other's culture by way of respecting, identifying and reconciling the cultural difference. His ‘silo minded thinking' should be replaced by broader thinking style. He needs to adopt the cultural diversity.
In short, a change in the mindset and attitudes of top level management in Akita joint venture will lead to success. Secondly, Human Resource Division and policies should be set, to close gap on people cultural differences.
Q3.Srategy for change:
As pointed above, globalization is leading to multi-cultural differences in the organisations. Slightest cultural variation could be a reason of problem and can impact the workforce motivation and productivity which finally affects the business performance and reputation.
To solve the Akita Motorcycle Company cultural conflict problems, an appropriate strategic change is needed to effectively attempt at the problem.
The Intervention Strategy Model (ISM) as developed by McCalman, J. and Paton, R. (2006) can be used to guide strategic management change in Akita case.
The ISM model is based on a socio-technical platform (Paton & McCalman 2008). The model is divided into three phase. First being problem identification phase; Second, evaluation and design phase; and third, the implementation phase.
In the first phase, Akita Motorcycle Company should identify the problems arising due to cultural conflicts and then brief background of the problem events can be stated further. Both the cultures can share the perception on the problems and lead to the advantageous solution. Performance indicators should be set so that the data on the problems collected can be used for further analysis and evaluation.
At the evaluation stage, the data collected can be analysed and change specialist might come up with solution. The possible solution can be conducting cultural trainings, working towards united organisation. The possible solution will be later evaluated through scenario planning and forecasting.
The solution can be implemented through parallel running or pilot testing to achieve the goals of the organisation.
Not every strategic change is a success. In the Akita case, the goal is to strive the cultural balance and working towards the cultural integration. It is also important to built up appraisal and monitoring program for future review and reference.
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