Communication in international projects – illustrated by comparing Germany & Japan

Seminararbeit, 2012
17 Seiten, Note: 1,7



1 Introduction

2 Communication
2.1 Definition
2.2 Kinds of communication
2.3 Relevance for international projects

3 Differences when communicating in international projects
3.1 Relevance
3.2 Different historicaland culturalbackgrounds:Germany andJapan
3.2.1 Germany
3.2.2 Japan
3.3 Differences in meetings and negotiations
3.3.1 Germany
3.3.2 Japan
3.4 Comparison

4 Bad practice versusgoodpractive
4.1 Fatal mistakes
4.2 Things to consider

5 Conclusion

6 Bibliography

1 Introduction

In the era of globalization, regular contact between countries of different cultures has long been an everyday object. Was communicating with foreign business partners a sign of advanced corporate strategy for several decades, it has already become a habit especially for large corporations in the 21st century.

But it is precisely this fact, why international business contacts often fail. Even in supposedly very factual contexts cultural differences bring unintended impact. They are often indicated at a second glance, is usually too late.

It is therefore so much important to develop an awareness of forces of cultural differences in order to maintain long-lasting and close business contacts. Companies are nowerdays acting at various points on earth in intercultural teams, which would cause major problems without this awareness in everyday work, especially in cross-cultural projects with very different countries and cultures.

The Austrian-American psychologist and philosopher Paul Watzlawick said once: "One cannot not communicate"[1]. It is in the nature of things to communicate, whether with the help of facial expressions, gestures, language, writing, images or sound, from face to face, or using paper or electronic transmission techniques. But in this everyday fact conceals an enormous complexity which reveals oneself only at a closer examination of this process.

This work concentrates on the analysis of communication in an international aspect. Beginning with a theoretical excursus on the basics and the types of communication, Germany and Japan are examined to highlight differences and compare these with the focus on negotiations and meetings. There are many other kinds of communication beside them, but due to the limited capacity of the work can not been mentioned and will not been investigated further.

Concluding, this work will present aspects that hinder cross-cultural teamwork through communication error, or can bring them to collapse, as well as aspects how to avoid this or at least improve international communication.

2 Communication

2.1 Definition

A precise and uniform definition of the word "communication" will be hardly found due to the variety of usages and meanings. In other words, there are hundreds of definitions of communication, depending from which area it is and what aspects are important.

The Oxford dictionary speaks about "the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium"[2] : television is an effective means of communication, as well as a letter or message containing information or news, the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings, and even social contact.

When going back to the etymological meaning of the word "communication", the Latin verb communicare means sharing, disclosing, to be interested in[3]. Even in English the word has the meaning of messaging, information, understanding, transmission of messages or the exchange of ideas.[4] According to that, Communication is relaying of information. A more detailed definition can be found at Brockhaus dictionary: "Exchange, understanding and the process of transfer, transaction and understanding of information of characters of all kinds G.0".[5]

Communication is in our everyday life, nowerdays more than in earlier days due to the high fluctuation of messages, high speed wireless networks and mobile phones. It seems as if our live is not possible without communication, as if there would be a huge gap without it.

This suggestion is not wrong, as Watzlawick summarizes it in one of his famous axioms: "One cannot not communicate".[6] Communication takes always place - even if there is silence and there are no gestures or expressions. Because silence as response to a sentence or question is a kind of communication according to Watzlawick. In the literature, this first and most famous axiom is highly controversial, as it means for individual situations that, even if somebody denies to communicate, e.g. remains persistently silent, there is still communication happing. Watzlawick has a very broad definition of communication. The psychologist Rudolf Sponsel sees things differently: "Whoever intentionally does not say anything, is not communicating - but acting, and this action is called silence."[7]

The second axiom of Watzlawick shall be mentioned as well: "Every communication has a content and a relationship aspect (...]"[8] With everything we say it becomes apparent, which relation we take to the receiver. The relationship aspect in communication informs us how the content is to be interpreted. Even if only talking about facts we define simultaneously - and can not not do it - our relationship level according to the other person. The way that we ask or talk (tone of voice, expressions, gestures, body language] expresses our attitude to another person. This will be mentioned later on more in detail. Furthermore it is certain, that the majority of what we do in our lives is done relationship-led, even in professional or business life.[9]

The definitions of communication might be multifarious, but there is an almost unique process of communication - which stages are named the eight components of communication: Source, Encoding, Messages, Channel, Receiver, Decoding, Feedback and Noise/Context.[10] In most instances, these eight stages of communication occur almost simultaneously. The source is a person who has an idea, feeling, etc that they wish to share and it sends and receives, as well as the other person, messages. Because feelings and thinkings cannot be shared directly (no direct mind-to-mind contact], the sender has to encode the message internally. Messages are a set of written, pictorial, verbal and/or nonverbal symbols which are sent through the channel: The necessary connection, which can be e.g. a book, a page, a sound or even face-to-face interaction. The receiver takes the message into account and decodes it, akin to the process of encoding, and will respond with a feedback action, which can be a smile, word or gestures. Lastly, the message is always be delivered within a context which includes surrounding environment, corporate culture or international cultures. This is also called the noise component due to the interference by values, culture, background, experiences or mood.

2.2 Kinds of communication

Meanings can be expressed in two different codes: verbal and nonverbal.[11] The receiver of a message considers both aspects in the decoding process - both codes should complement each other. If a sender conveys one meaning verbally, bit another nonverbally, the receiver might be confused and is likely to cause misunderstanding.

Verbal communication is any communication involving words and thus including spoken and written words. The code used in verbal communication is language.[12]

Non verbal communication is any way that is used to express thoughts, feelings, or emotions without speaking. The human body is extremely susceptible to this type of communication, as 80% of messages we send and receive are done so without saying a word.[13] Nonverbal communication skills are a vital part of our everyday lives. We must be aware of what we look like when we say things. UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian developed one of the most well-known rules when it comes to non-verbal forms of communication, determining that messages received in communication are mostly received in a non-verbal form:[14]

55% of messages received and processed by your brain are based on your body language. This means that you are actually judged more on your physical stance and facial movements while communicating. A high percentage makes it imperative that you are aware of the way you look when communicating. For example, you can say that you forgive someone while they are apologizing, but if you have your arms crossed over your chest, this puts up a barrier between you and the other person. Their brain will not accept your forgiveness because it doesn't look like you are open to their apology.

38% of messages are based on your tone of voice. How you say something is more important than what you are actually saying. While communicating with someone, if your voice is not expressive of the emotion you are trying to convey, the meaning behind your words will be lost. Take the forgiveness scenario: You must sound forgiving and understanding if that is what you want the other person to feel.

Only 7% of your received meaning will be based off the words you are saying. This low percentage means that saying the words "I forgive you" means little when your tone and body language do not reflect forgiveness.


[1] cf. Watzlawick, Beavin, Jackson (Norton, 1967], p. 51

[2] cf. Oxford Online Dictionary: "Communication"

[3] cf. Stowasser, Petschening, Skutsch (Oldenbourg, 1994], p.101

[4] cf. LANGENSCHEIDT: „Communication"

[5] cf. Brockhaus / Lenke et al.: „Communication" (1995]

[6] cf. Watzlawick, Beavin, Jackson (Norton, 1967], p. 55

[7] cf. Sponsel (2006, Online Version, ISSN 1430-6972]

[8] cf. Watzlawick, Beavin, Jackson (Norton, 1967], p. 54

[9] cf. Eichler, Pankau (Universität Oldenburg, Institut Germanistik, Online Version] - Chapter 1.5

[10] cf. Samovar, Porter, McDaniel (Wadsworth, 2012] p. 30f

[11] cf. Key (Walter de Gruyter&Co, 1980] p. 4ff

[12] cf. Cleary (Juta&Co Ltd, 2004] p. 17

[13] cf. (Accessed 20-07-2012]

[14] cf. Mehrabian (Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1981] p. 76-79

Ende der Leseprobe aus 17 Seiten


Communication in international projects – illustrated by comparing Germany & Japan
FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie & Management gemeinnützige GmbH, Berlin früher Fachhochschule  (International Management)
Project Management
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
480 KB
Germany, Japan, Project, Management
Arbeit zitieren
Martin Thomas (Autor), 2012, Communication in international projects – illustrated by comparing Germany & Japan, München, GRIN Verlag,


  • Noch keine Kommentare.
Im eBook lesen
Titel: Communication in international projects – illustrated by comparing Germany & Japan

Ihre Arbeit hochladen

Ihre Hausarbeit / Abschlussarbeit:

- Publikation als eBook und Buch
- Hohes Honorar auf die Verkäufe
- Für Sie komplett kostenlos – mit ISBN
- Es dauert nur 5 Minuten
- Jede Arbeit findet Leser

Kostenlos Autor werden