Three foreign Assistant Language Teachers (ALT's), Mark, Suzanne and Kelly are employed in a teaching program titled Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET). The Japanese government developed JET in an effort to better the English language education in Japan through the use of international teachers. It was also hoped that the program would promote an understanding at the local level of the importance and value of the differences between various cultures. Any differences that presented themselves between the ALT's and their employers would be heard by the Conference of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR). An issue however, was that, by agreement, CLAIR would only become involved if the employer would not or would not resolve the problem itself.
In this case study, Kelly and the other ALT's had taken two days off for being sick. The ALT's were directed by their boss Mr. Higashi to get a doctor's note before returning to work and were told they could not use sick leave, instead they would have to use accumulated vacation time for their absence. Mr. Higashi explained that the work ethic is different in Japanese workers and they feel guilty missing work generally and especially because they are sick. When time is missed because of illness, the works use vacation time. Sick time is only used when the employee has exhausted all their vacation time. This was not consistent with what Kelly and the other ALT's were told before going to Japan, nor was it consistent with their practices in their home countries. Kelly considered filing a complaint against Mr. Higashi with CLAIR, while Mark made it clear he was not happy with the Japanese style of management, and Suzanne proclaimed that Mr. Higashi was incompetent.
Appropriate Management &Professional Conduct by Kelly
There are several issues that contributed to the issue involving the ALT's and Mr. Higashi. In a nutshell, the different cultural beliefs, and lack of communication is what caused this incident to occur. A value is a judgment of what is important in social interaction (Lewicki, 2009). Lewicki (2006) also said, “Communication is the substance of negotiating.” An example of how cultural differences played a role in this case study is; there was a perception by the Japanese that the ALT's did not value hard work. The study indicated that the Japanese always put their job and employer before their family and personal needs which conflicted with the way the ALT's thought. Something else that added to the conflict was Kelly choosing not to attend the pre-departure training session that discussed the difference in costumes between Japanese workers and other countries' workers. Had she attended this meeting, she likely would have learned much more about the cultural differences between her and the Japanese and certainly how sick leave would work (Lewicki et.al, 2009).
Understanding the cultural differences and being able to properly negotiate through those, differences would be the key for Kelly to obtain the desired results of being paid her sick time instead of having ...