Japanese Female Professors in the United States: A Comparative Study in Conflict Resolution and Intercultural Communication

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Over the last quarter century, as interest in Japan has increased and Japanese language classes have proliferated all over the world, Japanese professors (of whom about 80% are female) have become an increasingly significant presence on U.S. college campuses. However, when Japanese professors teach American students, they face various issues caused by differences in cultural backgrounds, communication styles and expectations about the education process.

This study focuses on Japanese women, especially professors, working in institutions of higher education in the U.S. Then, using concrete examples, it explores their styles of handling classroom conflict, the effectiveness of different styles, and how their methods change with the length of time they have lived and worked in the U.S.

The book discusses the factors that contribute to the problems and conflicts, and gives professionals some suggestions and recommendations on how to face and resolve conflicts both in the classroom and in multicultural situations in “the real world.”

This study will appeal to scholars in Asian studies, women’s studies, intercultural communication, and conflict resolution management programs, and also professionals in global organizations and will help them to resolve culturally-based communication style differences and interpersonal conflicts more effectively.


“Understanding the interplay of gender, class, race, ethnicity, language and culture in creating conflict is essential. Dr. Hamada’s study is an important contribution to this goal. As we look forward to a global future shaped to an unprecedented degree by human encounters defined by such differences, I can think of no more important work for social and behavioral science than the line of inquiry Dr. Hamada has pursued. As our world is transformed through the various processes we term ‘globalization,’ human societies – in settings public and private, large and small – must do better in understanding how ascriptive identity attributes contribute to conflict and how they should be handled if conflict is to be resolved peacefully. Dr. Hamada’s research points the way toward using scholarship in pursuit of this worthy goal.” – Professor Margaret Smith Crocco, Columbia University

“This book offers an important contribution to the growing literature on conflict and its resolution across cultures. Rooted in the personal experiences of its author, Dr. Masako Hamada, a Japanese-born academic working in the U.S., the book describes a rigorous methodological study of conflicts and resolution strategies of Japanese female professors working in the context of American higher education. The book is particularly valuable because it does not attempt to generalize broadly across a wide variety of cross-cultural differences, as is common in the field of conflict studies today, but rather focuses specifically and systematically on the problems and challenges of one unique population in a particular context ...” – Professor Peter T. Coleman, Director, International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, Columbia University

“ ... Confronted with multiple challenges based on their gender, ethnicity, and communication styles, female Japanese professors must learn to deal with the conflicts that inevitably arise with their American students. This study addresses this critical issue through an extensive study of these professionals ... This work makes an important contribution to the fields of education and conflict resolution in general as well as to the particular areas of gender in higher education and cross-cultural communication ... The findings are encouraging and shed new light on the working lives of an understudied but vitally important segment of the higher education workforce in the U.S.” – Professor Frances Vavrus, Columbia University

Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Illustrations
Foreword by Margaret Smith Crocco
I. Japanese Women: Language, Culture, and Communication
II. Research
III. Summary of Survey Responses
IV. Results of the Analysis of the Data
V. Summaries of the Interviews
VI. Interpretation of the Results
VII. Conclusion: Suggestions and Implications
A. The Survey
B. Survey Responses Categorized into Themes
C. Group by Group Scores on the Five Styles of Handling Conflict Resolution

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