Questions on the movie “Gung Ho”

Subject: 🎨 Art
Type: Synthesis Essay
Pages: 8
Word count: 2176
Topics: 🎞️ Film Analysis, 📽️ Film Review
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Four mistakes made by Michael Keaton during his presentation

The 4 major mistakes that Michael Keaton made while presenting the proposal of opening the car plant in Pennsylvania and producing Assan Motor’s cars over there, are as follows:

Asking if anyone speaks English

Michael Keaton while meeting the Japanese board of directors of Assan Motors asked them if they could speak English in a very casual manner. Questioning one’s capabilities is perceived as insulting in the Japanese culture (Takeuchi, Lepak, Wang, & Takeuchi, 2007). The negative perception of this behavior of Keaton is evident from the belligerent response of the Japanese directors to the question of Keaton. 

Relaxed demeanor 

 The relaxed attitude depicted by Keaton during the meeting with the Japanese directors of Assan Motors is another mistake. In Japanese culture, relaxed attitude and behavior of individuals during official proceedings are considered unprofessional (Jakonis, 2009). 

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Making politically incorrect remarks

Projecting political remarks during an official meeting is a perceived as a severe depiction of misconduct in the Japanese culture (Wolf, 2013). Keaton’s politically incorrect remarks along with profanities is extremely unprofessional for interacting with Japanese officials. The members of the Assan Motors’ board of directors not laughing and maintaining their rigid posture are clear indications of their resentment to such acts of Keaton. 

Asking for questions at the end of meeting

Keaton’s way of concluding the meeting with the board of directors by requesting them to ask any question to him is another major mistake in context of Japanese culture. Asking questions at the end of an official meeting is perceived as an extremely rude gesture in the Japanese culture (Wolf, 2013). Hence, the response of the directors being silent to Keaton demonstrates their resentment to Keaton’s suggestion to the directors, asking question to him. 

Job rotation

The idea of introducing job rotation schedule into the American plant by the Japanese after acquiring it, is intended to encourage multiskilling talent development among the workforce. However, introduction of such a strong measure at the organization, where the native labors are completely unused to such work style; cannot be considered as a good idea. As stated by Eriksson and Ortega (2006), prior preparation of the employees at workplace to adapt to change is important to ensure the successful change implementation and derivation of the desired outcome. Implementing this measure of job rotation without any prior training and preparation of the workforce is a bad idea. 

In today’s world, several organizations can be seen to adopt the idea of job rotation. Companies as Intel Corporation, Virgin Airlines, IBIS chain of hotels and Volkswagen can be identified to be implementing job rotation beneficially at the organizations with expertise currently (Weber & Kwoh, 2012; Pizam, 2012; The Hindu, 2015). This indicates the growing inclination of the businesses to develop a multi-skilled workforce at workplace through job rotation techniques. Motivation of employees, professional growth opportunities and skill development are the major benefits that can be achieved through job rotation. On the other hand, concerns as requirement of huge time and effort, development of stress and anxiety and pressure of constantly changing responsibilities and work schedules are also associated with job rotation (Aryanezhad, Kheirkhah, Deljoo, & Mirzapour Al-e-hashem, 2009). 

It can be analyzed from the movie that the Japanese directors of Assan Motors intended to develop multitasking and multi-skill development of the American workers at the car plant, but absence of any psychological preparation and prior training hindered the success of the job rotation technique.

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Working together

The analysis of the movie “Gung Ho” revealed the fact that the intermixing of the workers from two different cultures requires a highly efficient leadership so that it can be managed effectively. The leadership of the Japanese directors of Assan Motors and the American executive Michael Keaton can be analyzed as failure in leading the workforce towards the delivery of an efficient performance. In the end of the movie, both the Japanese and American workforce and leaders could be seen to adjust their own work styles and decisions to ensure the effective collaborative working of the labors. 

The workers at the car plant could be seen to adopt each other’s cultural norms and ethics to work together. It is evident from the American employees agreeing to conduct the calisthenics of the Japanese workers before starting to work. The strict CEO of the Japanese company is also seen to loosen the stringent criteria of quality for the cars produced at the car plant. The declaration of the culturally diverse workforce as a ‘good team’ by the CEO and providing them with a partial raise on wages and other requirements depict the appreciation of the labors’ work efficiency by the management. This encouraged them to adopt each other’s culture and focus on working together towards the achievement of the common goal of work productivity. 

Business with foreign country

From the movie “Hung-Ho”, it could be learnt that while venturing into business operations across national boundaries, it is vital to prepare for the cultural shift adaptation by both the management and the employees. As opined by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (2011), the cultural differences play a major role in the work style preference, benefits and rewards perception, compliance with new organizational rules and regulations at the new workplace. It ultimately affects the business productivity, development and sustenance in the national and global market. 

The cultural differences between the American and the Japanese people could be seen to pose severe work related concerns at the car plant in Pennsylvania after its acquisition by the Japanese company. At the same time, it is also evident in the movie that the executives at management level, who are involved in the inter-country business operations, need to be highly efficient in their skills of cultural diversity management and ethical sense. It would eliminate the scope of development of confusion and related issues that occurred due to the misleading conduct of Keaton at the car plant in the movie. 

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Core work related values of the Americans at the car plant

The core work-related values of American workers as identified through the movie are liberty, equality and self-governance. In American culture, leisure is considered to be a reward for hard work, and integrity is a major core value (Dilenschneider, 2013). In the movie, however, Keaton could be seen to violate the integrity value by lying to the workers about the deal with the Japanese management. Perseverance is another core value of the Americans that emphasizes on the time consuming nature of the work style of Americans. It indicates the American workers’ need for time to adapt with the Japanese work ethics and work style, which they did not get during the acquisition of the Pennsylvanian car plant by the Japanese company Assan Motors. 

Informality, practicality and materialism can be further identified as values by which American people lead their life and works (McAdams, 2013). In the movie, the frustration of American workers on losing freedom to form unions, mockery of the rule to perform calisthenics in the morning and Keaton’s informal relaxed attitude alongside incorrect political remarks at the meeting with board of directors of Assan Motors depict the informality, practicality and liberty as the values followed by Americans. Urge for higher wages further reflects the materialism value of the American workers at the car plant. 

Core work related values of the Japanese company

High emphasis on getting work done, minimal leisure time, high levels of formality and decorum could be identified as the major core work related values of the Japanese company Assan Motors in the movie “Gung-Ho”. The focus of the management of Assan Motors on limiting the leisure times of the workers at the car plant and setting of high standards for quality of the automobiles to be produced depict the strong adherence of the company to the values of getting the work done and minimal leisure time. 

Kaynak and Sai (2016) mark group orientation, aesthetics and perfection, adherence to customs and rituals, low materialism, lesser communication and minimal time wastage as the core work values of the Japanese people. The movie illustrates instances such as the measure of extended work hours, practicing calisthenics in the morning before starting work, restriction on taking newspaper to bathroom, minimal communication depicted by the Japanese board of directors during the meeting with Keaton, low wages for the workers and high emphasis on timely product-delivery (evident in the deal between Kaz and Keaton). These instances in the movie specify aforementioned core work values followed by the Japanese people at workplace. 

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Differences in values of Americans and Japanese

Analysis of the movie “Gung-Ho” revealed that the American and Japanese people differ largely in their work cultures. It can also be depicted through the Hofstede’s cultural dimension model (Refers to Appendix). The model identifies individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation as the major dimensions, where the two countries differ vastly. Indulgence and power distance (PD) dimensions also represent considerable difference between the two countries (Geert Hofstede, 2017). 

In the movie, the instance of Japanese managers restraining the American workers from taking the newspaper in the bathroom and the management restricting the workers from forming unions strongly mark the difference between the cultures of the two countries. These instances indicate the restrain and high PD in the Japanese culture opposed to the indulgent and low PD culture of America. While liberty of work style is preferred by the Americans, the Japanese show preference to guidance for work from seniors, adhering to strict rules and regulations. This is evident from the instance of the American workers facing difficulty with the job rotation activity, expanded work hours and abiding by the strict rules of meeting the high standards set for the work quality within stipulated time set by the Japanese managers. 

Japanese management style in the USA and vice versa

After analyzing the movie “Gung-Ho”, it could be stated that the Japanese management style focusing highly on instructing the workers to comply with strict organizational rules cannot be applied to achieve desired and productive outcome in the USA (Shimazu & Schaufeli, 2009). The American workers would perceive their management style as intrusive of the workers’ personal space and liberty, limiting their professional progression and violating some other workplace values as well. 

The highly indulgent management style of the USA with its informal work and communication style, contrary to the Japanese culture can also be deemed inefficient to work effectively in Japan. This management style can be perceived as disrespectful and restrictive to the improvement of work efficiency and future professional growth of the staffs. However, as asserted by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (2011), the prior discussion of the management with the workforce and strategizing a midway process to combine both Japanese and American priorities can be helpful to manage the mixed workforce by both types of management. 

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Management in all cross-cultural circumstances

All cross-cultural managements require a prior assessment of the concerned cultures to be managed (Gelfand, Erez, & Aycan, 2007). Considering the case of Japanese and American cross-cultural management depicted in the movie, it can be analyzed that hugely varied cultures are very difficult to manage and strong efficiency of the leaders to strike a balance between the two distinct cultures is essential. In a general cross-cultural management circumstance, it is the best suited to combine two similar cultures to attain ease of management and positive outcomes as high productivity from the culturally intermixed people. 

Leadership learning from the movie

From the movie “Gung-Ho”, it can be learned that in order to enact an efficient leadership presence of the skills of integrity; sound knowledge of people management, motivation and inspiring capability are essential. The truth of Keaton regarding the deal ultimately calmed the conflicts among the employees at the car plant. The honest act of Keaton and Kaz to enter the factory and start working themselves for making cars is seen to motivate and inspire the employees to work together towards the fulfillment of the goal for producing 15000 cars. It, thus, depicts the significance of integrity and motivating capability of leaders to drive productivity among workforce. 

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  1. Aryanezhad, M. B., Kheirkhah, A. S., Deljoo, V., & Mirzapour Al-e-hashem, S. M. J. (2009). Designing safe job rotation schedules based upon workers’ skills. The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 41(1-2), 193-199.
  2. Dilenschneider, R. L. (2013). 5 Core Values for the Workplace. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-l-dilenschneider/business-advice_b_3829655.html
  3. Eriksson, T., & Ortega, J. (2006). The adoption of job rotation: Testing the theories. ILR Review, 59(4), 653-666.
  4. Geert Hofstede. (2017). US in comparison with Japan. Retrieved from https://geert-hofstede.com/united-states.html
  5. Gelfand, M. J., Erez, M., & Aycan, Z. (2007). Cross-cultural organizational behavior. Annu. Rev. Psychol., 58, 479-514.
  6. Jakonis, A. (2009). Culture of Japanese organization and basic determinants of institutional economy. Journal of Intercultural Management, 1(2), 90-104.
  7. Kaynak, E., & Sai, Y. (2016). The Eight Core Values of the Japanese Businessman: Toward an Understanding of Japanese Management. Abingdon: Routledge.
  8. McAdams, D. P. (2013). The redemptive self: Stories Americans live by-revised and expanded edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  9. Pizam, A. (2012). International Encyclopedia of Hospitality Management. Abingdon: Routledge.
  10. Shimazu, A., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2009). Is workaholism good or bad for employee well-being? The distinctiveness of workaholism and work engagement among Japanese employees. Industrial Health, 47(5), 495-502.
  11. Takeuchi, R., Lepak, D. P., Wang, H., & Takeuchi, K. (2007). An empirical examination of the mechanisms mediating between high-performance work systems and the performance of Japanese organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(4), 1069.
  12. The Hindu. (2015, December 20). Volkswagen chief eyes job rotation for key roles. Retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/volkswagen-chief-eyes-job-rotation-for-key-roles/article8011131.ece
  13. Trompenaars, F., & Hampden-Turner, C. (2011). Riding the waves of culture: Understanding diversity in global business. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
  14. Weber, L., & Kwoh, L. (2012). Co-Workers Change Places. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204059804577229123891255472
  15. Wolf, R. (2013). Management Relations in the Work Culture in Japan as Compared to That of the West. Innovative Journal of Business and Management, 2(5), 116-122.
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