Testing the Interactive Acculturation Model in Japan: American-Japanese coworker relations

Presentation Description: In order to promote positive relations between Japanese and Americans, it is prudent to examine which factors have contributed to creating a smooth or difficult acculturation process for foreign workers in Japan. With this aim, research will be described which assessed how the compatibility of acculturation strategies between Japanese and American coworkers affects their quality of intercultural relations.
Bourhis and colleagues’ Interactive Acculturation Model (“IAM”) was used to predict which acculturation strategy combinations (i.e., Consensual, Problematic, and Conflictual “IAM types”) were most likely to produce positive intercultural relationships between Japanese and American coworkers (sample = 194 participants at 72 organizations). Statistical analyses revealed that Conflictual IAM types consistently demonstrated lower scores on the dependent measures than Consensual or Problematic IAM types—as predicted by the IAM.  However, Consensual IAM types did not score significantly higher than Problematic ones on any of the dependent variables, which contradicted one of the IAM’s fundamental premises.  Consequently, the IAM was expanded from the original three types into six subtypes.  In addition to describing these findings, recommendations will be made for how group boundaries can be redrawn to better integrate disenfranchised Americans and Japanese into their work organizations.

Adam Komisarof, PhD, is a tenured associate professor in the International School of Economics and Business Administration at Reitaku University near Tokyo.  As an intercultural trainer, he has performed scores of corporate workshops in both Japanese and English in the United States, Japan, Southeast Asia, and Europe.