This study explores how to make communication go smoothly between Japanese expatriate managers and local employees. This has been a hot issue for Japanese small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Currently, an increasing number of SMEs have gone global and started overseas production, mainly in Southeastern Asian countries. If Japanese expatriates can communicate effectively and efficiently with local employees, overseas subsidiaries might perform excellently.
We applied the concept of metacognition and schema based on Nishida (2003) and focused on the role, procedure, and language schema under a cultural schema.
Needless to say, Japanese expatriate managers try to operate local companies based on a cognitive activity characterized by Japanese management style. However, they should acquire different cultural backgrounds and assumptions by dealing with some misunderstandings and conflicts.
Metacognition serves to regulate intercultural engagement such as appropriate intercultural communication and trust-building with local employees.
Our research is combined with qualitative and quantitative studies.
To grasp the current situation regarding communication between Japanese managers and local employees, we conducted in-depth interviews with Japanese expatriate managers, and then surveyed both Japanese expatriate managers and local employees in Malaysia.
Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-cultural country; therefore, it is a huge challenge for Japanese expatriates to adapt.
First, we elaborate on the communication issues based on our survey. We clarify the Japanese managers' language proficiency, their motivation to learn local customs and culture. We also collected the data about the perception gap between Japanese managers and local employees, like role assignment and communication measures.
Second, we compared expatriate managers who acquired metacognition and those who could not acquire metacognition based on our interviews.
Third, we examine the local employees' attitudes under Japanese supervision. We observed the difference between local employees who have Japanese supervisors with metacognition or not.
One finding is the importance of Japanese expatriate managers acquiring metacognition such as role, procedure, and language schema. Another finding is that excellent performance of SMEs is brought by the local employees who acquired metacognition and achieved behavioral changes.
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