DEAR ABBY: First international business trip raises culture questions

Monday, November 26, 2018
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Dear Abby

Advice Columnist

DEAR ABBY: I’m worried for my son. He’s going on his first business trip in January — to Japan. He doesn’t drink alcohol. (He’s not an alcoholic; it’s his personal choice.) His bosses, who do business there frequently, are now telling him that the Japanese will not do business with you unless you drink with them first. Can you find out if this is true? And if it is, what can, or should, my son do? — WORRIED MOM

DEAR WORRIED: Although alcohol can be a part of an important bonding ritual across East Asia, your son may be able to forge successful business relationships in other ways. According to Erin Meyer, a professor at the international graduate business school INSEAD and author of “The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business”: “If you don’t drink, you can certainly find other ways to partake in the fun; in Japan, a round of karaoke or a trip to the spa can do wonders.” Because your son is involved in international business, he may find professor Meyer’s book, which was published in 2014, will give him valuable insight.



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