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Intercultural Synergizers or Lost in Translation? American-Japanese Coworker Relations

19.03.2008 | 18:30

Adam Komisarof, International Christian University (ICU)

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In order to promote positive intercultural relations between Japanese and non-Japanese, it is prudent to examine which factors have contributed to creating a smooth acculturation process for foreign workers in Japan vs. those, which have not. The goal of this presentation is to contribute to this process—i.e., to describe the presenter’s research, which assessed how and to what extent the compatibility of acculturation strategies between Japanese and American coworkers affected their quality of intercultural relations.

Bourhis and colleagues’ Interactive Acculturation Model was used to predict which acculturation strategy combinations were most likely to produce positive intercultural relationships between Japanese and American coworkers (sample = 194 participants at 72 different work organizations). My research reveals that many American participants who experienced negative acculturation outcomes perceived that they were not expected to understand or acculturate to Japanese culture by their Japanese coworkers. They felt they were unable to cross organizational insider boundaries (where they thought that only Japanese were accepted). Many Japanese perceived that they were expected by American coworkers to assimilate to American culture by adhering to American communication and professional norms (e.g., by speaking English to Americans and utilizing American customer service standards even with Japanese customers). On the other hand, I also identified people whom I call Intercultural Synergizers. These people experienced positive intercultural relations with coworkers and were effective at their jobs in multicultural environments. Recommendations will be made during this presentation for how group boundaries can be redrawn to better integrate disenfranchised Americans and Japanese into their organizations and utilize their professional skills.


Adam Komisarof is scheduled to receive his PhD in public administration (with a focus on intercultural communication) from International Christian University, Tokyo in March 2008.

Koordination: Barbara Holthus; Gabriele Vogt; Maren Godzik; Ralph Lützeler

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