Touro University International
Session Long Project Assignment Module 4
Dr. William Muraco
The TaylorMade Corporation has an outstanding relationship with the Asian community but it always wasn't this nice. The company initially ran into problems with its overall image and western mentality. The company came to Tokyo in 2000, with aspirations of great sales within the first year, but the company did not do as well as planned.
Dieter Paschen (then 59), was the Head of Region Asia Pacific for Taylormade-adidas golf. He was in his last year with adidas (30 years) and carried much of the old style of business over with him from Germany and the United States. A style that was not affective in Japan or any other Asian country. Although the company was doing about the same as others in Asia, Taylormade-adidas had focused on this area and were committed to that idea.
The initial problem lay in the language and misunderstanding of what the people wanted, needed and would accept. Inevitably, language is a trap. A Japanese and German business man speaking English can only translate into problems.
The company started the using a team of veteran gaijin (non-Japanese) translators, but the problem was even more in depth than the language. The clothing line had not yet been accepted by the people and instead of having a popular golfers like Shingo Katayama and Tadahiro Takayama, they had a Japanese comedian dressed as Samurai walking onto the golf course. Although the company would never admit the promotion was a failure, the add was soon dropped. Communicating consciously with those who can help to cross value systems is the only way to be successful in the international world. Communication in this context is about understanding and not just language. (Holden, Richard)
"In the Muslim world, the sole of the foot should not be shown because it is seen as dirty," says Foster. "In America, we often sit casually with our foot crossed over our knee, but this is seen as insulting in most Muslim cultures." In Bulgaria, many American executives get confused as they think that everything they say is taken negatively. But there, shaking your head "no" means that the person is listening, not that they disagree with you. (Wade, Jared) Language is just a portion of what one is sending, when communicating with other cultures. From hand gestures to the general greetings, any misunderstanding of the culture could land you in trouble.
The Company realized that it would be better of signing Riko Higashio and Shigeki Maruyama as representatives for local events, which successfully reached the people. Unfortunately, the Company soon lost Shigeki Maruyama to a bidding war with Callaway Golf and Bridgestone.
In Lieh-Ching Chang's discussion of Geert Hofstede's cross-cultural research, the four dimensions of culture models are introduced: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, and masculinity. One more dimension was added into Hofstede's model called Confucian dynamism to help differentiating Chinese from Western cultural values.
The last addition allows us to understand that Confucian teachings have a strong influence on many Asians. "The Confucius values include thrift, saving, persistence with slow results, adaptation of traditions to a modern context, acceptance of unequal relationships, and a concern for virtue rather than truth." (Chang, Lieh-Ching) Their lives are affected by this philosophy and it is carried over into the work place. The other four dimensions of culture models are easily explained on how many cultures do business.
We must have someone in charge, some with power and responsibility, and they are loyal to those for whom they work, never questioning any decisions being made. Japanese and Chinese cultures reflect that people feel uncomfortable or insecure with risks, chaos, and unstructured situations. This also ensures that people in a strong uncertainty avoidance company are more apt to obey the rules and are committed to the company, valuing their position in the whole. Most Asian countries are male-dominate societies, so the promotion should have been focused on male approval, even though they were trying to reach high-income families and women.
Their current promotion "I am a Golfer" is truly getting through to everyone all over the world, especially on Father's Day. Besides golf professionals, the company has regular men and women speaking about their fathers' and what role they played in passing golf down to them.
I feel that Taylormade Golf has learned from its mistakes and the new CEO for the Asian division is communicating properly with the people who he is trying to reach.
TaylorMade Golf. "I am a Golfer"; <http://www.taylormadegolf.com/iamagolfer/>
TaylorMade-adidas; TaylorMade Golf website; <http://www.taylormadegolf.com/>
Holden, Richard. "Managing people's values and perceptions in multi-cultural organisations: The experience of an HR director"; Employee Relations. Bradford: 2001.Vol.23, Iss. 6; pg. 614, 13 pgs <http://proquest.umi.com/>
Wade, Jared. "The Pitfalls of Cross-Cultural Business"; Risk Management. New York: Mar 2004.Vol.51, Iss. 3; pg. 38, 5 pgs <http://proquest.umi.com/>
Chang, Lieh-Ching. "An examination of cross-cultural negotiation: Using Hofstede framework"; Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge. Hollywood: Mar 2003.Vol.2, Iss. 2; pg. 567, 4 pgs <http://proquest.umi.com/>