Presentation at GCI 2017


Reexamination of Cultural Superiority: Negotiating the Meaning of “Japaneseness” in a Cross-cultural Workplace


This presentation reexamines the conventional idea of Japan’s cultural superiority in Asia based on the analysis of how the local workers negotiate “Japaneseness” in a cross-cultural setting. “Japaneseness” here indicates the image of Japan constructed by the local consumers and the workers. Case of a Japanese multinational company, here calls it Ichi, in Hong Kong will be introduced to explore how the company imports Japanese culture through its business practices and how local workers negotiated the meaning of “Japaneseness” in their daily work life. Two conflicted yet coexisted interpretations of Japanese culture are observed: on the one hand, many local consumers stressed and enhanced Japan’s cultural superiority through their mass consumption of Japanese culture, but on the other hand, local workers were reluctant to uncritically accept this idea because they interpreted Japanese working culture as passive and inferior although interestingly, these two interpretations coexist with each other. This finding implies that perceptions of one nation’s culture will be largely influenced not only by the local’s socio-cultural context but also by the interpretations of particular aspect of its culture.