JFTC Essay Competition

Summaries of the Award-Winning Essays of JFTC Essay Competition 2005

The Grand Prize

Advocacy for 'Corporate Foreign Policy'

Mr. Akihiko TAMURA (Japanese age 38)
(the original text is Japanese)

The era of globalization is an “age of uncertainty.” To enhance predictability, orders and rules at an international level are being sought with regard to a wide range of economic affairs, from trade to investment, currency and standards. To build the orders and rules, which enable us to address problems that may arise in the future, a preemptive approach backed by imagination is required. It is noted, however, that Japan, public or private, has not necessarily been proficient in such an approach.

Globalization has also brought a change in the composition of players in the international order. In addition to sovereign states, which have been traditionally its constituents, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and corporations have also emerged as its key players. The borderline between the public and private sectors has thus become blurred. This means that corporations are now directly responsible for the creation and maintenance of the international order. The international order is common property, and it is of a public nature to build and maintain that order. Western corporations precede Japanese counterparts in their involvement in activities for the public interests of the international society.

In light of the above two points, this essay advocates that Japanese corporations should be more actively engaged in constructing the international orders, and particularly the international economic orders and rules, to the extent that they function as the primary constituents. This philosophy is summed up in the term “corporate foreign policy.” “Corporate foreign policy” is not simply acts performed by corporations to achieve public interests. It rather refers to an initiative through which corporations strive to spread a web of orders and rules throughout the international economic environment as much as possible. The orders and rules may take a form of self-imposed disciplines on the part of corporations. They may take a form of having corporations exercise a substantive influence on the intergovernmental regime. The form of the corporate involvement and the enforceability of the rules vary depending on issues which the rules seek to address.

The Prize for Excellence

Globalization's New Face - Corporate Social Responsibility

Ms. Lauma SKRUZMANE (Latvian, age 23)

Having swept world markets with the efficiency of their manufacturing methods, Japanese corporations are now facing the need to adjust to new conditions of the globalized market place. This essay looks at Japanese companies and the new face of globalization – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Even though, CSR has been a recently heatedly discussed concept in the West, this essay argues that for Japanese companies there is no such novelty attached to addressing issues coming under the umbrella of the CSR. Japanese companies have embraced the core CSR principle of raising the value of the company by caring for all stakeholders involved in the framework of their domestic and overseas operations already for quite a considerable time. Meanwhile, Western companies have tended to focus on short-term profit generation for their shareholders paying little attention to the overall stakeholders. Japan has emerged as a world leader for environmentally conscious corporate management. However, workforce related issues of CSR seem to be largely overlooked. Should Japan be able to realize its vision of a strong economy with a strong society that utilizes the energies of a diverse range of individuals, much more of Japanese CSR initiatives must be directed towards addressing human resources issues.

The Prize for Excellence

Intercultural Management Skills: What Japanese Corporations Need to Know

Mr. Makoto YODA (Japanese, age 47)
(the original text is Japanese)

Japanese expatriates stationed in overseas offices of Japanese corporations often complain that locally hired staff members under their supervision fail to do “ho-ren-so,” an acronym for hokoku (to report), renraku (to inform) and sodan (to consult). People incapable of such a routine, they say, cannot be entrusted with important jobs.

What they don’t realize, however, is the fact that it is not until they were hired by a company and received training that they began doing horenso themselves. Forgetting that it is a practice they acquired through learning, they simply expect overseas employees to have it. If they want their staff to do horenso, they need to be aware of the need to explain what it is, why it is necessary and what effects it achieves.

To be aware is one of the skills that are the building blocks of what this thesis calls Intercultural Management Skills, an ability to convey one’s intent to people of different cultural backgrounds and to build interpersonal relations based on trust. This thesis elucidates three major intercultural managerial skills—to be aware, to explain and to persevere—and attempts to demonstrate their importance to the Japanese and Japanese corporations of the future. With “intercultural” as a key word, it discusses what the Japanese corporation and the Japanese ought to be in an age of globalization.

The Prize for Excellence

Globalization of Regional Corporations: Case Studies and Future Avenues

Mr. Sadaka INASAWA (Japanese, age 29)
(the original text is Japanese)

For some time now, globalization has been spreading among corporations throughout the world, but Japanese regional corporations have seldom been mentioned in that context. Active efforts toward globalization are required, however, to revitalize such corporations and the regions where they are located.

This essay discusses how regional corporations can achieve globalization not just from the perspective of goods and assets which have often been discussed in the past, but also from the standpoint of people and information. In particular, the following three avenues of globalization form the core of the essay: regional efforts through cooperation among industry, government, and academia; attraction of foreign companies to the regions; and human resources measures related to foreign students.

Regarding regional efforts through cooperation among industry, government, and academia, this essay touches on regional corporations that share resources, including human resources and facilities, and cites cases in Nagoya and Kyushu. Regarding the attraction of foreign companies to the regions, this essay cites, based on a survey, changes in the awareness of both the companies being invited to the region and the regions extending the invitation and shows that momentum is rising in the regional areas of Japan to attract foreign companies with different languages and cultures. Regarding human resources measures related to foreign students, this essay discusses the active introduction and use of internship systems in addition to employment; as a preliminary stage before hiring, internships offer the merits of enhancing mutual understanding.

Through these kinds of efforts, regional corporations could play an independent role in the regional economy. It could also be an opportunity for breakthroughs that can transform the economic structure often seen in the regional areas of Japan, that of dependence on the government.