Is saving face worth it? Why old cultural practices hinder engagement in Japanese boardrooms

Deep Dive into Japanese equities

clock • 3 min read
Yu Shimizu of SPARX

Yu Shimizu of SPARX

Investors often feel communication with Japanese companies can be difficult due to cultural and language differences, often highlighting the following as hindering effective engagement: complicated corporate governance systems; a mystified corporate culture that includes a strong emphasis on hierarchy, politeness and manners; and a dislike of giving and receiving honest feedback due to an emphasis on "saving face".

Academic research supports these perceptions of Japan's unique culture. Professor Erin Meyer, of France's INSEAD, wrote The Culture Map, in which she uses eight scales (communicating, evaluating, persuading,...

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