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Analysis of Cultural Differences Presented in The Movie Gung Ho Using Hofstede’s Theory

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The term “Gung Ho” is an Americanized Chinese expression for “Work” and “Together”. Gung Ho is a 1986 comedy film which was directed by Ron Howard and starring Michael Keaton. The movie is a very good reflection of the real time issues or challenges that a company may face when expanding into a foreign market or country. There are several concepts relevant to those covered in the course “Global Supply Chain Management”. Most of these are related to the cultural differences between the Japanese and the Americans. Some of the issues portrayed in the movie are a good example of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory. The theory is a cross-communication framework, developed by Geert Hofstede.    

One of the dimensions of Hofstede’s Theory that majorly differentiates the Japanese and the Americans is “Individualism”. As seen in the comparison of Individualism by Hofstede, United States has a score of 91, where as Japan has a score of 46. This shows that the Americans are way more individualistic than the Japanese. This is also exactly reflected in the movie. The Japanese are seen to be working in a team where as the American employees are more self-centered and individualistic. The Japanese workers were ashamed of their mistakes and show loyalty towards the company and country.    

There is a scene in the movie during the dinner party hosted by the Japanese for Hunt Stevenson and his wife, Audrey where the wives of the Japanese officials leave the table when the Kazihiro wanted to discuss something related to business. In this scene, Audrey doesn’t leave the table but insists to sit along with Hunt as she is interested in knowing the details of what’s going on in the company (Assan Motor Company, Hadleyville, Pennsylvania, USA). Also, there is a clear miscommunication between Audrey and the Japanese men in this scenario. When Audrey asks them if they mind her sitting along with Hunt for a business discussion, the Japanese give no reply which she interprets to be a “Yes” and continues sitting for the discussion. This is a good example of Hofstede’s dimension of “Masculinity and Feminity”. According to Hofstede’s Insights, Japan is rated 95 in Masculinity as compared to 62 for USA. This shows that Japan is way more Masculine or male-dominated as compared to the USA.    

Another major dimension of Hofstede’s Theory is “Long Term Orientation”. According to the Hofstede’s Insights, Japan is rated 88 in Long Term Orientation as compared to 26 for the USA. This aspect is also visible in the movie. The Japanese have a vision for far future. The Americans can be seen having a short term vision. This is one of the reasons that the Americans had so much trouble and conflicts working with the Japanese. Also, as clearly mentioned in the movie, the American leadership was also to be blamed partially for this. The Americans did not see the long term benefits of Assan Motors opening a manufacturing plant in a dying town.    

The Japanese always try to achieve perfection in any task. They can be seen taking steps or decisions to avoid risk as much possible. As per Hofstede’s Insights, the Japanese are way less risk taking than the Americans. The Japanese don’t accept even minor defects in their products, which was very different than the attitude of Americans towards the same. One reason for this being, that the Americans are more individualistic as compared to the Japanese. The Japanese don’t encourage any kind of entertainment during work time which causes distraction to work. In the movie, the Japanese officials ask Buster to stop the music when he is playing songs while working. Also, Goog is not allowed to take newspaper in this work area. All these scenes completely show that the Japanese are way too serious towards work and try to reduce the risk to minimum. The Japanese official warned an American employee of no music and no cigar in the work premises.    

The Japanese usually believe in a fair game. They don’t believe in cheating. Buster runs into a Japanese Baseball player when he knows that he is going to catch the ball and they would lose. This shows that the American Baseball Team won the match by using the wrong practices. This wasn’t appreciated by the Japanese at all.    

Cultural differences between the Japanese and Americans are reflected in a lot of instances in the movie. I will discuss a few of them here. It was difficult for Hunt Stevenson to find the Assan Motors office when he went to Japan for the first time. He had a difficulty in understanding the directions as explained to him by some Japanese people. He didn’t know that the ribbons on the shirt of an employee in the Management Centre were ribbons of shame, rather than being something to feel proud about. Such instances can give a feeling of disrespect towards others cultures, although it may not be intentional. The Americans put a carpet for Japanese to walk to the stage when they get down from the aircraft. But, the Japanese remove their shoes to walk on the carpet as it is not a good thing to walk on the carpet with shoes in their culture. Hence, the Americans also had to do the same. This situation could have been avoided if the Americans had a little more idea about the Japanese culture.    

One major incident of miscommunication was when Kazihiro tells Hunt that he understands the problem and situation, Hunt considers it as a “Yes” and moves ahead accordingly. But, the intent of Kazihiro didn’t really mean the same. This creates a wrong impression to Hunt that even if they produce close to 15,000 cars that month, it would be okay. However, for Japanese, 15,000 means exactly 15,000 not even one less. This leads on to another issue of the company workers being hopeful of partial raise in salaries even if they manufactured 13,000 cars a month. This instance clearly shows a lack of good leadership and understanding about the Japanese culture.    

The Japanese expect the company employees to be hard working and loyal. When Goog gets injured in an accident, the Japanese officials still insist the other people to continue working and not waste time looking after Goog. This was surprising for the American employees or workers. I also noticed in the movie that the American workers liked to do work their way, and did not like the idea of being bossed upon. Ito denies to go home early even when his wife is pregnant and is expecting a baby. This extent of loyalty and dedication is expected from all the employees associated with the Japanese companies. The Japanese employees come early and leave later to achieve targets. They cut down on lunch breaks to achieve more than required.    

Most of these issues or differences arising between the Japanese and the American employees or workers could have been avoided if both of them respected each other’s cultures. They should have worked on trying to find a middle ground to deal with certain issues to reduce the damage or loss. This could have benefited both the countries. The Japanese would have been able to successfully develop the market in the USA. At the same time, a lot of people from the town of Hadleyville could have earned a livelihood by working in the Assan Motor Comapny’s plant situated in their town. 

References

  • Compare countries. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hofstedeinsights.com/product/compare-countries/  

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Analysis Of Cultural Differences Presented In The Movie Gung Ho Using Hofstede’s Theory. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-cultural-differences-presented-in-the-movie-gung-ho-using-hofstedes-theory/
“Analysis Of Cultural Differences Presented In The Movie Gung Ho Using Hofstede’s Theory.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-cultural-differences-presented-in-the-movie-gung-ho-using-hofstedes-theory/
Analysis Of Cultural Differences Presented In The Movie Gung Ho Using Hofstede’s Theory. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-cultural-differences-presented-in-the-movie-gung-ho-using-hofstedes-theory/> [Accessed 27 Jan. 2022].
Analysis Of Cultural Differences Presented In The Movie Gung Ho Using Hofstede’s Theory [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2022 Jan 27]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-cultural-differences-presented-in-the-movie-gung-ho-using-hofstedes-theory/
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