Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century Japan

Synopsis

Japanese industry is the envy of the world for its efficient and humane management practices. Yet, as William Tsutsui argues, the origins and implications of "Japanese-style management" are poorly understood. Contrary to widespread belief, Japan's acclaimed strategies are not particularly novel or even especially Japanese.

Tsutsui traces the roots of these practices to Scientific Management, or Taylorism, an American concept that arrived in Japan at the turn of the century. During subsequent decades, this imported model was embraced--and ultimately transformed--in Japan's industrial workshops. Imitation gave rise to innovation as Japanese managers sought a "revised" Taylorism that combined mechanistic efficiency with respect for the humanity of labor.

Tsutsui's groundbreaking study charts Taylorism's Japanese incarnation, from the "efficiency movement" of the 1920s, through Depression-era "rationalization" and wartime mobilization, up to postwar "productivity" drives and quality-control campaigns. Taylorism became more than a management tool; its spread beyond the factory was a potent intellectual template in debates over economic

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Princeton, NJ
Publication year:
  • 1998