Negotiating in Japan

The end of 2009 was very busy for AKI Japan. We supported strategic negotiations for two clients and negotiated agreements with suppliers from Europe and Asia.

One interesting point arising from these various activities was the range of negotiating styles and targeted outcomes. These divided along national lines and again within national borders according to company culture. Hardly groundbreaking discoveries, I hear you say, and, of course, you’re right. But I found the experience and the outcomes interesting, not least because it all happened in a short time-period. I will write about this in more detail in future.

Going into 2010 we see a lot of cross-border activity: VW-Suzuki, Peugeot-MMC, Geely-Volvo, Autoliv-Delphi Asia and possibly Nissan involvement in the proposed Daimler-Renault technical tie-up.

All these activities will involve intensive negotiations and integration activity and experience shows that the outcomes will vary widely according to the quality of the integration. plan and the skills of the integration teams. These are both elements which can be optimised as long as the cross-border element is handled correctly. This is particularly true in Japan. The words of Stuart Chambers, former CEO of NSG Pilkington during a presentation at the FCCJ last year sum this up nicely: “For two years I said that Japan was just another culture, now, in my third year, I am beginning to think Japan is more different than other cultures”.

Those who take the trouble to listen to managers experienced in bridging cultures positively and who assemble and educate the right teams will succeed.

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