Japanese eCommerce Platform Selection for American Companies

The two main eCommerce platforms in Japan, Rakuten and Amazon Japan, hold a combined 43% of total eCommerce market share in the country. Amazon Japan currently holds 24% of total eCommerce market share in Japan while Rakuten holds 19%. Since 2013, Amazon Japan has made efforts to increase brand presence and eventually eclipse Rakuten in market share in 2016. It is important to note that the remaining percentage of Japan’s eCommerce market share is largely segmented. Rakuten and Amazon offer customers unique shopping experiences. Amazon appeals to consumers looking for quick and easy shopping experience while Rakuten appeals to consumers looking to browse and explore new products. By pursuing selling strategies on both eCommerce platforms, American companies would be able to reach a wide array of Japanese consumers.

American companies should consider entering the Japanese market on Amazon before debuting product on Rakuten. The high fixed and variable costs associated with selling on Rakuten make the platform a less profitable entry point. When selling on Rakuten, merchants take responsibility for creating store content in the native language. International merchants are also responsible for providing customer service support in Japanese. Although Rakuten has partnerships with third-party service providers that specialize in these areas, they come as an additional cost to the merchant.

Cross Cultural Insights in “Outsourced”

“Outsourced” is a film about an employee named Todd and his experiences while working as an expatriate in India. Todd is an employee in a customer service call center for a company that produces America-themed novelty products. At the beginning of the movie, Todd’s boss informs him that their call center is getting outsourced to India. Todd is faced with a tough dilemma. His boss has required that he move to India to train his call center replacements or lose his pension plan. Todd chooses to go to India to train the call center but received essentially no preparation or cross-cultural training. This is evidenced by Todd’s total lack of knowledge about Indian culture and business practices. After facing a drastic learning curve, Todd is eventually able to effectively motivate and communicate with the employees at the Indian call center. He connects with the employees at the call center and even enters a romantic relationship with Asha, one of the employees. The following report aims to analyze some of the situations and interactions from Todd’s experience and relate them to themes of cross-cultural management.

When Todd first arrived in the call center, he had a very ethnocentric attitude and truly had no idea how to communicate with his Indian counterparts. With little to no knowledge about Indian culture, Todd behaved in a way that was arrogant and naïve. He treated his employees like children and could not comprehend how the call center employees did not understand what he was asking of them. For example, Todd tried to teach the call center employees to speak “proper English,” despite the fact that many of the employees were fluent in the language and even spoke it as their first language. Todd even tried to teach the employees Chicagoan accents and instructed the employees to tell customers that they were in Chicago when asked. The Indian employees did not respond well to this request. They even told Todd that they thought it was dishonest to lie to customers. Todd also committed several other culturally insensitive errors. He tries to explain one of the company’s products, a branding iron for beef products, to the call center employees. The call center employees were horrified as Todd explained the process of sticking a hot iron onto the flesh of a cow, as cows are sacred in the Hindi religion. This incident is evidence of Todd’s low cultural intelligence. If he was familiar with his own biases, characteristics of Indian culture, or even how to relate to people from a culture that differs from his, then this situation could have been avoided. Additionally, Todd has a fundamental lack of understanding of basic principles of Indian culture. Culture and the ways that people behave are often influenced by religion. In this case, Todd’s coworkers are influenced by a shared value of the Hindu faith. It is crucial when visiting or working in a foreign country that one understands the influences of culture and how they shape the society’s behaviors and attitudes towards certain practices.

Throughout the film, Todd slowly comes to the realization that he will not be able to teach or motivate the Indian employees in the same way that he could motivate the American employees that he traditionally worked with. After not being able to meet the expected goals of the call center, Todd realizes that something needs to change. At this point, he had begun to recognize some of the cultural differences and identified that he would need to adapt his leadership style to match the people that he was leading. Todd went directly to the people that he was leading and essentially asked “What can I do to motivate you all? What would make this a better working experience for you all?” Todd got some interesting and unexpected answers. The employees wanted to be able to wear traditional Indian business wear to work, rather than the Western business attire that had been previously required. They also wanted to be able to decorate their cubicles with photos of their families. Lastly, they mentioned wanting to be able to order some of the products sold by the company. Todd mentioned that he would set up a program where the employees that had the best call statistics for the week would have their pick of one of the products offered by the company. This practice, specifically, motivated the employees and was a game-changer for the call center’s overall statistics. Todd was somewhat surprised that Indian employees would be motivated to improve by the incentive of receiving a choice of the company’s novelty goods. According to modern motivational theory, however, the things that motivate people are quite different across cultures. What motivates an individual to perform well in the United States may be different than what motivates an individual in India. Additionally, research indicates that multi-national corporations should focus on giving physical rewards, such as novelty items, to lower-level personnel, whereas middle and upper-level employees are more motivated in a climate that fosters challenge and autonomy. Employee motivation is not something that translates perfectly between countries, even employees of the same experience level. In order to effectively motivate an employee, one must consider the cultural implications of the situation.

As mentioned previously, Todd had little knowledge of Indian culture prior to arriving to the country. When he first arrived, he was bombarded by taxi drivers who wanted his business. They totally defied the American norms of personal space and got very close to Todd. They also spoke in elevated voices, which would probably have been perceived as very aggressive in American culture. The verbal communication variables including volume, rate, and intonation of speech have different norms in both Indian and American society. These variables contribute to Todd’s inability to effectively communicate with the taxi drivers. Additionally, the taxi drivers got very close to Todd and essentially encircled him. This is an example of the taxi drivers using proxemics to communicate a message of “I want your business” to Todd. In order to fully understand a message, it is crucial to understand the body language that the person is conveying. This can be especially difficult in cross-cultural situations. It is crucial to understand the non-verbal communication tendencies in a culture, as non-verbal communication carries about 65% of the total message in a two-way conversation.

Upon Todd’s arrival in India, he is essentially forced to stay in a family’s house rather than the hotel that was previously setup. Although this was supposed to be a kind gesture, Todd really just wanted to spend time alone in his hotel room. Todd was quite confused by some of the interactions with the family that he was living with. The mother-figure in the home asked Todd some very personal questions immediately upon his arrival including the following: “Are you married?, “Do you have a girlfriend?,” “Why aren’t you married?,” “Are you looking for an Indian wife?” Todd had no idea how to respond to these questions as he did not really know the woman on a personal level. These questions make Todd quite uncomfortable as it is typically against societal norms in the United States to ask this level of personal questions upon just meeting someone. This uncomfortable situation stems from the fact that culture influences the topics that are appropriate for discussion between members of a society. In every culture, there are certain topics that are not appropriate to discuss. These topics include, but are not limited to, family relations, illnesses, politics, religion, and more. While these may have been normal questions to ask one-another in India, these personal questions being asked by a stranger caught Todd off guard.

India is a country with major cultural differences when compared to the United States. Indian employees are motivated by different factors and expect different leadership styles than American employees. Additionally, there are some engrained social aspects that seem strange and almost unacceptable to people unfamiliar with the culture. When going to India for work or leisure, it is crucial to come with a general understanding of Indian culture. Without a basic understanding of what to expect and cultural dimensions, it is easy to commit a cultural faux paw or even insult someone, much like what Todd did. When visiting cultures that differ greatly from one’s native culture, it is also crucial to avoid adopting an ethnocentric mindset and to be aware that there is no “right” or “wrong” culture; every aspect of culture is both subjective and valid. In addition to understanding the basic behavioral characteristics of Indian culture, it is also important that travelers understand some of the social norms and expectations of Indian culture. For example, Todd did not understand how to properly tip (or not tip) service providers in India. Todd tipped a snow cone machine operator and it was clear but the employee’s behavior that the tip was abnormally large. It is always important that one learn some of the cultural norms and expectations prior to visiting or working in any country. However, when visiting or working in a country that is culturally very different from one’s home country, attaining this knowledge is exponentially more important.

Social Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability at Anahuac University

This past week, I went to a lecture by Miguel Angel Santinelli and Klaudia Sanchez from the Anahuac University in Mexico City. Anahuac University has collaborated with the University of Oklahoma to establish the North American EcoInnovation Network. The EcoInnovation Network encourages young innovators and entrepreneurs, with emphasis on sustainability. The representatives from Anahuac University talked about their school, their upcoming innovation lab, and many of the social responsibility projects that they have worked on. The presenters discussed the distinction between the concept of “sustainability” in Mexico and the United States and discussed the importance of global collaboration on these issues. Lastly, the presenters asked the audience for feedback about how they can structure their new innovation hub in a way that best fits the needs of the students.

Coffee With a Diplomat

Today I had the opportunity to chat with Amanda Johnson, the Diplomat-in-Residence for the central region of the United States. OU has the distinct privilege of hosting this position, and Amanda was recently appointed in the Fall of 2019. She mentioned she likes to hold these coffee events to give students the opportunity to ask questions about careers in the foreign service; she is able to contribute a great deal of personal insight based on her own experience.
I am very interested in a career in the Foreign Service, but this job title can appear overwhelming, as their are several different career tracks and many different roles within the ranks. It was nice to receive insight as to what the day-to-day lives of officers looks like, and to learn how they help facilitate affairs in stations across the globe. I am most interested in the Public Diplomacy track, which happens to be the one Mrs. Johnson chose to pursue. I love the idea that officers serve as a conduit between foreign countries and the U.S., and help facilitate affairs between nations.


Record Homicide in Mexico

In terms of world news, I was saddened to learn that the year 2019 presented record levels of homicide in Mexico. The popular belief for the cause of this terrible phenomena is major political changes. The election of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and consequential collapse of the (Partido Revolucionario Institucional – PRI) has caused unsurmountable unrest throughout the nation.  With that being said, increased cartel activity could be just as equally to blame.


Manos Juntas Clinic

In order to further my Spanish speaking abilities as well as remain globally engaged, I made the decision to further my volunteer efforts with Manos Juntas. Manos Juntas is a free clinic in Oklahoma City that caters to those with little income or no insurance. A large portion of the patients are do not speak English, so bilingual volunteers are greatly appreciated. Though I wouldn’t classify myself as entirely bilingual at this point, my work there has given me many opportunities to improve upon my conversational Spanish speaking abilities.


Salsa and Bachata Class


This year, I decided to sign up for salsa and bachata classes at Adelante Dance Studio in Moore. In the past, I have always felt that my lack of dancing ability has held me back, particularly during my time in Puebla. With looming plans to visit Spain, I figured now was as good a time as any to work on my dancing.


Medical Understanding

As an Anthropology student at the University of Oklahoma with a focus on medical anthropology, I am studying to learn more about how health and illness are shaped, experienced, and understood in varying cultural, global, historical, and political contexts. By evolving my understanding of human health through the development of a holistic perspective, I aim to gain the lenses necessary for a health care provider to successfully provide treatment to international communities. As an aspiring psychiatrist, I want to provide accessible mental health services to impoverished communities of India. A large population of these underprivileged communities suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, symptomatic of their quality of life. However, due to overwhelming poverty and a cultural stigma towards mental health, serious mental health issues are often dismissed only to further decrease the quality of life for many. Eventually, I would like to open a clinic to provide these communities with the care necessary to help alleviate their suffering. I am currently working towards this goal of understanding through the pursuit of a Critical Language Scholarship to study Hindi in India for a semester. Because treatment of psychiatric conditions rely heavily on verbal communication and cultural understanding between patients and healthcare providers, it is important I am able to understand my patients’ plight beyond its physical context.




Nationalism is the identification with one’s own nation. Nationalists display intense pride and support for their nations. In a sense, it is beautiful for a nation’s people to foster such an intense interest in the prosperity of their nation. Nationalism gives rise to national unity. A nation can only thrive with a population displaying active support in its success. However, nationalism becomes detrimental when it is practiced to the exclusion of the interests of other nations or groups of people. In international politics, nationalism threatens the attainment of global peace and prosperity. With nations acting in self interest, the international community fails to provide necessary support to those who need it.

Today, the rise of nationalism in the United States and India can be observed as the result of similar circumstances. The election of leaders representing nationalist sentiments have fueled a fire of nationalism among the populations of these countries. Political demonstrations of nationalism can be seen with the catchphrases of these nations political leaders: President Donald Trump’s “America First!” or Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “India First!”. The widespread influence of these nationalist beliefs have resulted in an increased hostility towards immigrants and minority groups within these nations. In the United States, this can be seen with the demand for increased immigration regulation and the construction of a physical wall along the US’s border with Mexico. In India, the influence of nationalism can be observed in the discrimination of its Muslim population through policies such as the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Bill.



Navaratri is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights. Celebrated in mid-fall, the festival honors the Mother Goddess Durga, in all her manifestations. In Gujarat, the festival features nine nights of dancing known as garba and dandiya raas. These dances are performed in circles with dancers dressed in elaborate dresses known as chaniya choli. Because my parents are Hindus from Gujarat, this religious festival is a deeply rooted cultural tradition in our household. Every year, we dance garba at the Gujarati Samaj OKC (GSO) with all of our Gujarati friends and family. Everyone awaits garba season with great excitement and anticipation. For nine days, the immigrant families get to immerse themselves in their cultural traditions, even though they are so far from home. From the dancing, music, pooja, food, and cultural wear, the families transform a large gymnasium in south OKC into a true Navaratri celebration.

This year, I took two of my Indian friends who are not from Gujarat along with me. Borrowing my chaniya cholis, my friends arrived to the event ready to learn how to garba. In the dance hall, each circle of dancers represents a varying dance step. As you get closer to the inner circle, the dances typically get harder. I do not go to garba very often so like my friends this was also a learning curve for me. Initially we felt silly, but after careful observation and some friendly guidance, we were dancing like pros! As always, the festival was a very fun experience. I enjoyed sharing this beautiful aspect of my Gujarati heritage with my friends.