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Group culture


25 Mar 2003
Hi. I am always wondered how people think about Japanese doing things in groups. Can anyone know why they do that:?
Are you referring to the whole "group" mentality that is so often associated with Japanese culture? If so, i'd be more than happy to share my perspective with you, although I am not sure the Anime/Manga forum is the appropriate place for discussion of it. In fact, my undergrad senior thesis was on examining the subtle intricacies in Japanese "group culture" so to speak, and how they tend to manifest themselves in correlating sub-groups and splinter shards but I digress... Anyways, if you could give us a specific example of what you mean for instance, I might be able to shed some insight on it. :cool:
I just joined this site today, and I didn't know where I was posting my message. Sorry.

Well, an example of group culture I was thinking of was at a company. I worked for an English school in Japan with some Western teachers. I definitely felt that their attitude towards the company was different from Japanese. How do Western people think about belonging to a company?
depends on their position in the company i think, but from my personal experience i couldnt really care-less about some of the places ive worked for. basicly just going through the motions, doing just what i had to do to not get fired. not much pride or motivation in those past jobs. i like the one i have now though and tend to do better qualtiy work and feel more like a part of the place. so id say its based on how much we like what we do and how much we get paid to do it.
No worries about posting this here. I'll post in the staff exchange forum for one of the others to move it to somewhere more appropriate (as I don't seem to have the ability to do that myself atm). At any rate, greetings and welcome aboard! Re: your query concerning Western mentality towards Japanese institutions, there's actually a great deal of academic research currently available in this area.

From my understanding, business practices in general between say the U.S. and Japan tend to be radically different in terms of both management structure and approaches to problem solving. From this perspective, the Japanese group culture really stands out especially when compared to Western ideals. This "hive" mentality (as it is sometimes called) often manifests itself within Japan in accordance with the ideal of perpetuating group "harmony" so to speak and this is constantly striven for in order to avoid open confrontation as much as possible.

Unlike Japan though, managerial practices in America for instance tend to be much less concerned with the overall concept of group harmony (with the exception of a few distinct organizations) and more along the lines of traditional "top-down" hierarchical structure (as well as a greater span of control from an individual perspective). Similar in some ways to both the classical model of management as well as the human relations model, this concept is more routinely concerned with different values from the Japanese mindset, although there has been a recent trend towards moving to a more open participatory-management approach in some cases depending on the context of the organization.

I know it all sounds really convoluted and it can be hard to draw clear lines of distinction but maybe this will help clarify some of the things i've already mentioned. The following document is a cultural study of the low crime rate in Japan by Nobuo Komiya (in its entirety) taken from the British Journal of Criminology (1999). Although it deals specifically with differing attitudes towards crime in general, the author presents a wonderful discussion of the Japanese group mentality and correlating sub-groups and cultures that may be of interest to you. The paper tends to be a bit heavy on the theory side but I think it may offer some unique insights into some of the cultural differences that can also be seen in today's business practices in respect to attitudes and ideals.

It should be noted that none of this is concretely conclusive and is certainly open to debate but I think it does go a long ways towards explaining differing attitudes and approaches. I would encourage our other members to provide their input so as we may form some sort of mutual consensus that answers your question better. Hope that helps although i'm not sure if that was the kind of answer you were looking for, heh.

*Note* Doh... just realized the document won't attach (and may well be in excess of the current size limit as well since it's pretty long). If you're still interested, I may be able to send it to you via-email somehow (either partially or in its entirety). Just send me a pm with the address you want it sent too if you're so inclined.
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