HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH THE JAPANESE by Mark Zimmerman

HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH THE JAPANESE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

You may greet a Japanese businessman by lowering your head instead of bowing; but you must study his calling card--to merely stuff it in your pocket would be interpreted as a slight. Zimmerman (who died suddenly last year) headed Sterling Drugs' Japanese office and served as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan; he also learned to speak Japanese and, quite evidently, to think Japanese. This is a practical guide: from basic differences in values (commitment to company/group interest over abstract moral principles) to the etiquette of meetings (don't be impatient, don't get emotional) to the problems of holding on to a market--joint ventures with American firms will break up ""when the Japanese are fully prepared to exploit, on a worldwide scale, that same technology (doubtless improved) against their erstwhile joint-venture partners."" (Correspondingly, Zimmerman warns strongly against selling or licensing leading-edge technology to the Japanese.) Reading all the cautions and caveats, one might wish to throw up one's hands--like the Indians who reportedly stopped trying to understand the Japanese. ""Fortunately or unfortunately,"" writes Zimmerman, ""we in the West cannot afford that attitude."" His specific pointers--on how to distinguish between form and substance (tatemae and honne), or how to develop a network of relationships (ningen kankei)--and his descriptions of how the Japanese do business (the famously complicated distribution system, pricing according to ""what the consumer would expect to pay"") will benefit America trying to crack the Japanese market, and enlighten others on Japan's business culture in general (analogously with Michael Field's profiles of Arabian merchant families, above). The text will also help Americans in business and government meet Japanese global trade strategems, about which Zimmerman is not acritical. An astute appraisal that makes lively reading.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: Random House