Japanese company tries Englishnization

Topics: Rakuten, English language, Organizational studies Pages: 5 (1870 words) Published: October 1, 2014
Japanese company tries 'Englishization'
The Rakuten Inc is a Japanese electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo, Japan. It was founded in 1997 by chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani. As the CEO of Rakuten, Mikitani aims to position Rakuten at the forefront of global business. One way he feels this can be achieved is by introducing an English policy in his firm. He therefore, makes a dramatic decision by introducing ‘Englishnization’ program among 7,100 employees and all the employees must learn and become proficient in English within two years. "English is the only global language,” "We're doing a global business. I think this is the only way a Japanese service organization can become a global organization. If you want to become successful in other countries, you need to internationalize the headquarters," as cited in (Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO Rakuten).

At the present time, 10 percent of the workforce can run official duties in English. The CEO has given warning to the employees that whoever fails to master English during the time given they will be facing consequences. Moreover the language shift happened very quickly where employees almost overnight were required to order at the cafeteria in English and all the formal documents are in English. As the program begin the employees of the Rakuten struggle to learn English and they were facing many challenges. Rakuten only offers little initial training or support to workers, who were expected to pay for their own English classes and learn during off-hours. “Two years into an English-only implementation at one company, 70% of employees reported feeling frustrated with the policy” said by (Tsedal Neeley, 2011).

Organizational culture is about an organization's expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid. “Organizational culture is a set of shared mental assumptions that guide interpretation and action in organizations by defining appropriate behavior for various situations. At the same time although a company may have their "own unique culture", in larger organizations, there is a diverse and sometimes conflicting cultures that co-exist due to different characteristics of the management team. The organizational culture may also have negative and positive aspects which can affect employees own perceptions and identification with the organizational culture “says (Ravasi and Schultz, 2006). This case study is about the CEO of Rakutan who made radical changes to his corporate culture without engaging in proper communication with the stakeholders before make that radical change. Moreover, all communication, both verbal and non-verbal, was switched to English and the cafeteria menus and elevator directories were replaced with English overnight. Employees need to master the language by themselves within the duration given. “Careful selection of which decision to push down into the organization structure and which to hold near the top, specific policy making to guide the decision making, proper selection and training of people, and adequate controls” as cited in (Griffin, 1994, ). Communication is an essential for applying organizational strategies as well as for managing day to day activities through people. Managers spend more time in communicating. Good communicators are more likely to be decided as effective managers. Radical changes in any organization require good preparation. In the case of this case study, the radical change was the change in the official language of the organization. Employees were never given time to adopt the new changes which were going to take effect. Everything around them was changed overnight including the menu language at the cafeteria....

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Linkedin.com, (2014). Englishnization: Not Just for Rakuten Anymore. [online] Available at: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140304144111-52782505-englishnization-not-just-for-rakuten-anymore [Accessed 15 May. 2014].
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