Masanori works for a Japanese company with its headquarters in Tokyo. He was recently promoted to director of the international marketing department. He is now leading a team of employees located around the world. Although Masanori is feeling a little nervous in his new role, he is very excited about the opportunities he has to travel overseas and is determined to work hard so he can be successful.
Masanori's first business trip is to Omaha, NE, where he is participating in a series of meetings with senior leadership to develop global strategy. Due to the importance of the topic, the meetings are scheduled to last for a full week. Although English is his second language, Masanori can communicate quite well, and he understands most of what is being discussed during the meetings. He actively socializes with his new colleagues during breaks and is delighted to have been invited to participate in happy hour two nights in a row.
On the last day of the session, as the final draft of new global strategy is being reviewed, Masanori speaks up. This is the first time he has contributed to the discussions since the meetings began. His voice is a little meek. He apologetically offers his input into one part of the new strategy, which happens to be a critical point that is key to the strategy's success.
When he finishes speaking, silence fills the room. Suddenly, the meeting facilitator, one of the new colleagues with whom Masanori spent happy hour, turns to him and says, "Why are you speaking up now? You should have mentioned these things when we first started this discussion!" Masanori is shocked.
Be sure to include answers to these questions in your response:
From an intercultural communication perspective, describe what happened. What is the problem? What accounts for this cultural misunderstanding? What beliefs or values underlie Masanori's behavior and the differences in reactions?