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Japan Decision Making

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Understanding Formal and Informal Decision-Making Processes in Japan

Learn about the formal and informal decision-making processes in Japan and become familiar with the concepts of ringi-seido and nemawashi in Japanese business culture.

By Western standards, the way the Japanese make decisions may seem slow and tedious. The Japanese tend to be cautious and thorough, with a tendency toward kiken kaihi, or risk avoidance, and prefer to conduct business by using a group of employees, usually two or three people of various ranks. Learn about the critical Japanese decision-making process, called ringi-seido, where authority and responsibility are shared through a bottom-up process of reaching consensus. Critical to this process is the ringi-sho, a written proposal concerning the decision, which is circulated in various departments and then upward through the chain of management command. Review how the Japanese use the concept of nemawashi, informal discussions, to build consensus.