Building and maintaining internal harmony is a fundamental concern for managers in many Japanese firms. Discussions of Japanese management practices often point to the intense socialization of new recruits, the rotation of employees through different functions, and the significant role of seniority in determining salary levels and promotions. Considering this emphasis on harmony, can we reasonably assume that the orientations of Japanese R&D and marketing managers do not differ in any ways that may pose significant barriers to teamwork between their departments? X. Michael Song and Mark E. Parry test this assumption by examining the sociocultural differences between R&D and marketing managers in Japanese high‐technology firms. Using responses from both R&D and marketing managers in 223 firms, their study groups the respondents’ employers as either low‐ or high‐integration firms. They examine the sociocultural differences between the R&D and marketing managers in the study along five dimensions: time orientation, bureaucratic orientation, professional orientation, tolerance for ambiguity, and preferences for high‐risk, high‐return projects. Contrary to expectations, the responses reveal several significant differences between the R&D and marketing managers in this study. Compared to their colleagues in marketing, the Japanese R&D managers in this study generally have a stronger preference for high‐risk, high‐return investments. The R&D managers in the study also have a longer time orientation than the Japanese marketing managers. However, marketing managers from the high‐integration firms in the study have a longer time orientation than their counterparts in low‐integration firms. Compared to the R&D managers, Japanese marketing managers in the high‐integration firms studied have a greater tolerance for ambiguity. And relative to managers in low‐integration firms, marketing and R&D managers in the high‐integration firms in this study typically have a more bureaucratic organization. Perhaps most important, a significant number of R&D managers in this study perceive the marketing managers in their firms to have higher organizational status. Specifically, responses from R&D managers indicate that they perceive their marketing colleagues to have higher salaries, more power, and brighter career prospects. Such perceptions may foster morale problems among R&D professionals in these Japanese firms, and thus require management intervention to ensure that R&D performance does not suffer.
The Journal of Product Innovation Management – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1997
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