Japanese Telco to Acquire SA IT – Culture Clash?

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The 31 August edition of Info Age made note of an impending acquisition of a South African IT “cloud computing” company by a Japanese Telcom.  It just so happens that the Telcom (NTT) is Asia’s largest.  The South African company is Dimension Data and also provides Cisco products to its market.  On the surface, the proposed merger would be very attractive to the two companies and to the global IT market as well.  Dimension Data’s CEO (Jeremy Ord) is quoted as saying that the merger would be an “unprecedented combination”.

This unprecedented combination is suggested as having great strength in combining the infrastructure of the one with the IT cloud computing abilities of the other.  Industry analysts (one of them aptly named Mike Sapien, by the by) were quoted with concerns over communication and cultural “clouds” in the combination.  They offered the rather pessimistic view that the cultural differences gap between the two countries of origin might be too vast.  One might nod one’s head in initial agreement that there are few if any similarities between the two cultures of Japan and South Africa.  No mention is made of the use of intercultural measurement tools and methods and the application to this intercultural marriage.

A survey of the intercultural tools offered by the good people of Kwintessential reveals that these folks and other critics take a look at Professor Hofstrede’s Intercultural Dimensions.  These Intercultural Dimensions are; Power Distance, Individualism, Uncertainty Avoidance, and Masculinity.  This brilliant tool provides a numerical data point on each of these important dimensions for both countries in Power Distance and Uncertainty Avoidance.  In the former, Japan and South Africa are near equals with ratings of 54 and 49.

Though Masculinity ratings are currently obscured, it seems that the two cultures would just about be evenly matched.  In terms of Uncertainty Avoidance, there is a bit of distance between the two – Japan scores 92 and South Africa has 49.  It seems that there might also be differences in Individualism, but with reversed scores.  The IT Power Distance tool offers suggestions on how NTT personnel may offer some autonomy, space and recognition to their new people.  The keys to dealing with higher Individualism might be recognition of that fact and acceptance of the same – which appear to be key traits of the Japanese personality anyway.

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