By: James Moulder
Author: Arthur Andersen
There are distinct differences in how the management styles of East and West are perceived.
99% of respondents characterise Western management as open, direct and confrontational. They see the Western style as flexible and creative and encouraging empowerment of line workers. Decision-making is based on database statistics rather than individual intuition, is characterised more by individual initiative rather than by group consensus and places greater emphasis on short term profits.
The predominant Asian management style is seen to be one that places great value on seniority, relationships and family ties. It tends to be paternalistic, valuing corporate loyalty, supporting life-time employment and opposing hire-and-fire. It is the East that is seen to be more resistant to women assuming higher positions. It is more likely to stress quantity than quality.
To what extent will these distinctions between Asian and Western management styles persist as globalisation continues?
There are numerous examples within Asia of family-run businesses turning for the first time to senior professional managers from major Western multinationals. It appears that many traditional Asian family businesses, with their emphasis on seniority and family ties, are having to confront changes in management structure lest reluctance to reach beyond the family for management expertise limit their potential to grow.1
In a recent article, Hari Bedi suggests that the new Asian manager is more democratic, quality-conscious, customer-oriented, less loyal to the company, spurns feudalistic behaviour and paternalism, and prefers to deal with clear policies and procedures.2
Western business has embraced a number of Asian business practices. Will the traditional Asian manager now synthesise aspects of management into a new hybrid incorporating elements of both business cultures?
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