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General Country Information and Comparison of Japan and Egypt

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This paper provides general information about two different countries Japan and Egypt, describes the peculiarity of their social and business cultures. According to the Library of Congress (2012), Arab Republic of Egypt is situated in the northern Africa. The climate is desert with moderate winters and hot summers. Population numbers 76 million people, among the most widespread languages are Arabic (official), English, and French. Among popular religion are Islam, Coptic Christianity and some other small religious groups. Egyptian pound is an official currency. Republicanism describes the political system of Egypt with semi-presidential structure of government. On the other hand, Japan occupies four main islands and numerous small islands situated in East Asia. The climate is a bipolar form of tropical to cool one. The official currency of Japan is Japanese yen. Japan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. Japan is not a country with one single religion. It allows existing of different religious minorities; among the biggest are Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, and Hinduism.

With the aim to compare the most outstanding differences and similarities of these countries, Hofstede’s cultural dimensions were applied. Hofstede’s rating of Japan and Egypt is presented in the Table 1.

Table 1

Comparison of Japan and Egypt

Hofstede’s dimension

Japan’s score

Egypt’s score

Power distance

54

70

Individualism

46

25

Masculinity / Femininity

95

45

Uncertainty avoidance

92

80

Long term orientation

80

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According to the Hofstede’s countries rating (2012), Japan is a less hierarchical society than other Asian countries. From the foreigner’s point of view, its business activity and decision-making process are slow, as it is necessarily to receive approval of all stages, from down to top. Educational system in Japan stipulates that everyone has equal opportunities and can achieve great results if working hard. It is difficult to claim whether Japan is a collectivistic or individualistic country. Group interests are higher than an individual opinion, but it is an individual decision to be or not to be loyal to a particular company. It is noteworthy, that Japan is the most masculine country in the world. Its masculine soul is demonstrated, not in the individualistic desire to be the winner, but in the strong team cooperation. Employees are motivated to be a member of the winning team. It is hard for women to make a carrier in Japan, whereas Japanese are workaholics, and long working hours is a norm in a business. Japan tries to predict any event, such as natural disaster or business project failure. Managers consider and analyze all risk factors, gathering all possible figures and facts before starting any project or taking any decision. Uncertainty avoidance explains the difficulty of any change implementation in Japan. Ceremonies and rituals are a vital part of Japanese society; fatalism is a part of day-to-day life. Citizens are guided by good examples from practical experience and established virtues in their lives. Japan invests in its future, finance research, and development projects even in the toughest for the economy times. The companies do not pursue the goal of enriching and gaining the maximum of profits each quarter but invest in the market share growth. They “cement the fundament” for the future generations to be prosperous.

As it is stated in the Hofstede’s countries rating (2012), in Egypt, hierarchy is highly respected by the citizens. It means that everyone knows its position in the society and working place where the top manager is an autocratic leader, and the orders are carried out without objections. Centralization and inequalities are distinctive features of the country. The Egypt’s score for individualism is low that indicates socialistic type of society. Loyalty is paramount in such a society; offence is a root for loss of face, and employee-employer relationship is based on trust and respect similar to family links. Everyone takes responsibility for the behavior of each member of the group. Average score in the third dimension proves the fact that Egypt is a feminine society. Negotiation and compromise are ways to solve conflicts. Regarding the notion of uncertainty avoidance, in Egypt, everyone is expected to follow clear rules, security is crucial, time is highly valued, everyone tends to be busy and work hard. There is no score regarding long-term development. It is considered that Egypt will show low level of investing in the future although the issue of well-being of present and future generations is important for its society, but innovation and change will be met with resistance.

Cooperation between these countries’ representatives cannot be smooth. As it is stated in the World Business Culture study (2012), the biggest difficulties between these nationalities will arise in the communication area. Japanese businesspersons distinguish themselves by restrained behavior and not showing any bright emotions. Egyptians, on the other hand, are used to explicit expression of emotions. They do not observe distance when taking part in the discussions, which is regarded as the invasion in a personal space. Sharp remarks, reinforced by turbulent visible emotions, make the meeting environment uncomfortable for the foreigner. With the aim to conduct business successfully in Egypt, the following advices and recommendations should be taken into consideration. If the company partner is Islamic-oriented, any potential impact of religion on decision-making process should be analyzed. “Business is driven by relationships; therefore, a great deal of resource and time should be allocated to the development of key contacts” (World Business Culture study, 2012). In the Egyptian business community, it is acceptable to find initial contacts of different go-betweens. Meetings are very long but not always rich on efficient outcomes. The key decisions should not be made on Thursday or Friday, and during the month of Ramadan. The managerial style of Egyptian companies is authoritative using broad consultancies with subordinates but strict hierarchical power sharing. Consensus-building meetings are an appropriate way to meet all the cultural differences of Japan and Egypt and build long-term business relationships.

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