Each country has its own unique history and background, but while some countries have existed since the BC era, other countries became nations only a few years ago. This article will focus on Japan, one of the oldest nations in the world, and America, one of the youngest. Despite their difference in age, America and Japan are known as developed countries that lead the world economy and business world. According to the GDP (gross domestic product), which shows the economic power of each nation, the United States is the country and Japan is in third place.
Even though the two countries look similar in numbers, they have had completely different histories, cultures, and backgrounds. Such differences have a great influence on their individual business strategies and decisions as a nation, even still today.
Differences between the U.S. and Japan
One of the biggest differences is the “flexibility of companies”. Flexibility here refers to how typical companies in each country respond to new ideas and how they make decisions. In America, companies tend to adopt novel ideas, and/or techniques by receiving input from people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Such a management style can be described as innovative. On the other hand, people in Japanese companies are homogeneous, meaning that there are only very narrow perspectives. This may explain why Japanese companies tend to respect their existing techniques and work with their resources and do not implement new ideas as often or as easily. In fact, a survey shows that 35% of people said that America is the most innovative country whereas only 12% of them said that it was Japan. But how are these difference explained by the histories of Japan and the U.S.?
First, we will take a look at how history affects the diversity of the two countries. For America, as widely known, Columbus found an American continent where native Americans had already settled. After his finding of the continent, many Europeans began migrating to the American continent and ultimately colonized the continent. This means that since its discovery, America has been a very diverse country, which it still is today. This in turn means that companies in America consist of a diverse community of people. As opposed to the history of America, Japan has developed with only a single race: Japanese. Because Japan is a small island country, not many countries have tried to invade Japan in its history. In addition, from 1639 to 1854, Japan was a closed country, which means that no one was able to come to Japan and there was no trade with other countries. Such conditions caused Japan to become an even more homogeneous nation.
The second main difference is the ability of companies to adopt new ideas and approaches. In Japan, because the Japanese culture has been able to flourish for more than 2000 years without being confronted by other cutlures, there are many traditional ideas that people still respect, such as the existence of the natural state. One example of this is that some Japanese words that were first “invented” 1300 years ago to represent body parts and nature are pronounced exactly the same — examples of this are nose and flower as well as tooth and leaf. Because the idea of living “with nature” still penetrates widely in Japan, and there is a belief that long-lasting traditions should not be abolished, people tend to make more conservative decisions. Conversely, Americans have more realistic ideas of nature. For instance, Newton (even though he was from Europe) who found the existence of gravity considered the tree with an apple as an experiment objective, not something to see and enjoy the phase of the tree as the Japanese did. Also, because there are not many long-lasting histories in America because of the late independence, there would be less pressure for people to decide to adopt new, what could sometimes be seen as a bit risky ideas and/or techniques.
In this article, by unraveling the history of the United States and Japan, the huge role that the relevant history of the two countries plays in the business sector was discussed. History has greatly influenced each country’s business greatly, thus explaining the vast differences between the two countries. Based on this article, my suggestion is that businesses should be open to adopting new ideas and techniques, but at the same time, I do think that is important to follow some respected traditions at the same time and not abolish them. Generally, it is always interesting to see the connection between the history of the country and the current situation of the country and explore how the traditions have impacted such developments.