A handy, practical manual for understanding cultural differences from a business perspective.




An exploration of the unique aspects of the Japanese business world.

Western executives who attempt to do business in Japan without reading this excellent guidebook do so at their own risk. This updated edition of a 2005 work comprises just five chapters, but each comprehensively covers its subject, helpfully segmenting the material into small, digestible chunks. The first chapter’s general description of Japanese culture demonstrates an intimate understanding of the country’s hierarchical society and the importance that its citizens place on work. Chapter 2, “Japanese Social Etiquette,” should prove a vital safety net for any foreign businessperson, offering helpful pointers about such basics as bowing and presenting business cards. Just as importantly, Takei (Sociology/Nihon Univ.) and Alston (co-author: Flock of Dodos, 2007, etc.), a professor emeritus of sociology at Texas A&M University, provide insider information about Japanese etiquette regarding eating and drinking, including common courtesies that differ from American conventions. They even show how to craft an email properly: “the normal U.S. American way of writing emails will be interpreted by Japanese as too direct, impersonal, and even unfriendly.” Readers will likely find the book’s third and fourth chapters to be particularly useful, as they deal with “Work in Japan” and “Negotiations.” The former contains insightful information about how decisions are made and meetings are run: “From the Japanese perspective, there is never an acceptable excuse allowing a participant to show anger or lose his temper. Meetings are also not the places to argue vehemently.” The latter chapter offers on-target advice on how to negotiate with Japanese businessmen, warning that a failure of negotiations is “primarily the result of cultural misunderstandings rather than a lack of attractive economic offers.” It bears mentioning that the text is occasionally a bit repetitive, and the final chapter may have a more limited audience, as it concerns working directly for Japanese executives. After each chapter, the authors suggest additional readings, and an aptly titled “Glossary of Useful Words” explains the complexity of several Japanese terms.

A handy, practical manual for understanding cultural differences from a business perspective.

Pub Date: May 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5320-4818-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.


A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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