The main actor, Michael Keaton, was motivated and aggressive with the proposal to keep the company running. He travels to Japan to make a presentation to Assan Motor management about continuing production. His attempt was successful. The company was re-opened but a Japanese management team was sent to help, guide, and monitor the American workers. These Japanese workers supervise and also collaborate with the American workers. Although the factory re-started, the wages were substantially lowered from the usual pay prior to the factory shutting down.
The culture differences create obstacles and misunderstandings throughout the film. Japanese management demands a lot more productivity than the workers are used to. If productivity standards aren’t met, then overtime work is expected, without pay. In the beginning, it is clear that management lacks regard for the workers and their lives. The focus simply remains on productivity alone. This is unfamiliar to the American workers, which leads to them getting agitated. The relationships between the management team and the workers are also damaged due to the differences between cultures.
Keaton portrays himself to be the group leader and attempts to mend the relationships but does not succeed at first. The management team almost came to a breaking point and gave up on the factory. Keaton steps in to protect the company. In his attempt, he proposes to match the best month of production in the Japanese factory. The management team agrees to the proposal. The conditions end up being, if the factory produces and completes 15,000 cars, then the company will continue production and the workers will gain their normal pay check back. If not, the factory will close indefinitely.
Although the deal specifically was 15,000 cars, after Keaton discussed the conditions with the workers, the details are not properly discussed. He gives a motivating speech about being better than the Japanese, and then concludes his speech by telling the workers exactly what their goal for production was. By the reactions of the workers, this is an impossible goal. Miscommunication results in the workers thinking they could produce 13,000 cars and get a slight increase in pay. But this is not at all the case. Once the workers find out that the conditions were not flexible, they immediately aggressively discuss their discovery with Keaton.
They end up working hard to complete and achieve their goal of 15,000 cars but fall a little short. The executive of Assan Motors comes to evaluate the final outcome and is less than impressed. But then after seeing the connectedness and team spirit in the factory so he chooses to keep the company open and give full raises. Overall, the movie shows obstacles that could occur when involved in international business. The vast differences between cultures make collaborating difficult because of the opposing work ethics and styles.