Warren Oats was a highly successful executive for American Auto Suppliers, a Chicago-based company
that makes original-equipment specialty parts for Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Rather than retreat before the
onslaught of Japanese automakers, AAS decided to counterattack and use its reputation for quality and
dependability to win over customers in Japan. Oats had started in the company as an engineer and
worked his way up to become one of a handful of senior managers who had a shot at the next open vicepresidential
position. He knew he needed to distinguish himself somehow, so when he was given a chance
to lead the AAS attack on the Japanese market, he jumped at it.
Oats knew he did not ...view middle of the document...
Frustrated by this seeming lethargy and beginning to doubt the
much-touted Japanese efficiency, Oats got right to the point. He made an oral presentation of his
proposal, waiting patiently for the translation of each sentence. Then he handed the leader of the
Japanese delegation a packet containing the specifics of his proposal, got up, and left. The translator
trailed behind him as if wanting to drag out the process even further.
By the end of their first week, both Oats and his wife were frustrated. Oats’s office phone had not rung
once, which did not make him optimistic about his meeting with another top company the following week.
Carol could scarcely contain her irritation with what she had perceived of the Japanese way of life. She
had been sure that a well-respected U.S. lawyer would have little trouble securing a job with a Japanese
multinational corporation, but the executives she had met with seemed insulted that she was asking them
for a job. And the way they treated their secretaries! After only a week in Japan, both Carol and Warren
Oats were ready to go...