The Case of John Higgins – A synopsis Essay
In today’s world which is shrinking rapidly, people from various parts of the world move to other countries in lieu of their job or profession. Very often projects taken them across seas and they continue living in a foreign land for an extended period of time. While these kind of cross cultural migrations are healthy for any organisation they bring in tow their share of issues as well. One of it is the syndrome of “Going Native” as discussed in this case. To “go native” means to take on some (or all) of the culture traits of the people around you, often said of people who go to foreign.
As depicted precisely in this case, the underlying theme is the moral and professional Dilemma experienced by Leonard Prescott, the Vice president of an American and Japanese Joint Venture, having a majority of its operations run out of Japan. Working under him and in a high profile role was Mr. John Higgins. The narrative describes him as a thorough bred American who even served the army loyally before returning to mainstream. Through extensive culture and language studies he emerges as one of the strongest assistants that Prescott ever had.
Higgins quite literally falls in love with the Japanese culture and tradition and over a period of time adopts all of their cultural and professional traits in his personal and professional behaviour. This works well for both the Japanese who being to trust him as well as the Americans who use him for negotiations and deals until the time that Higgins becomes emotionally connected to all the people around him and begins rallying for their cause against his own boss. This puts his boss Prescott in a pickle about the future course of action to follow.
He is disappointed that that Higgins is no longer “American” in his ways and thoughts and that he has become more an adversary than an advisory. This is an issue faced by most Global business managers. This is more so in cases where one or more of the countries involved are economically more dominant than the rest. This leads to the mindset that their values and beliefs are superior to the other country and wish to thrust them upon the other. While it is not realistically possible to wipe away this feature, the answer to this would be moderation.
It could be done through formal cultural trainings where employees can be made to understand the culture and habits of their counterparts so that a trust and rapport is built. It can be done by establishing a level of equality in all formal and informal communications and lastly by including in the organization’s framework the best habits from both the countries and this way creating a conducive environment for organizational growth unrestricted by cultural differences.