6

The company and human relations

Groupism

Groupism is one of the most well-known features of Japanese companies. It is in the context of groupism, and attitudes towards it, that human relations in C-Life must be understood. Here, then, I analyse what groupism means to employees, in both its positive and negative aspects, and examine how it has changed in recent years.

Employees see C-Life’s group-oriented character as one of the most fundamental elements of the Japanese company. From it flow other important characteristics of the company such as the training and harsh initiation that we examined in Chapter 4.

H: In the training dormitory they eat rice that has been cooked in the very same pot as everyone else and they all have a very hard time together going around doing door-by-door sales. There is that army-like character to Japanese companies, especially in life insurance companies, something very Japanese. I think that life insurance is an industry in which the most Japanese characteristics are still remaining.

However, they are divided in their evaluation of groupism, whether it is a good or a bad thing. Sometimes it is described in almost lyrically pastoral terms, sometimes in terms of ostracism:

H: C-Life is a primitive communistic village society where everyone is important to the same degree. The guys who have ability cover for the guys who do not. There is a lot of mutual sympathy [kyōkan] and emotion-based situations. When inside those kind of societies it is very comfortable. If you get sick then everyone helps you. They help out at funerals. In Japanese companies, if there is a funeral, employees are sent to the funeral to help out as part of their work duties. If a child is born to a company employee they celebrate together. Those events of life are celebrated by the company. There are all kinds of celebrations. The company is a kind of village. The kind of event [gyōji] that were carried out in the co-operative body or community of the village [kyōdōtai] have all been brought into the company environment. If you look at the development of the villages in Japan, after the war in the high development era the people in the villages came out to the city. The people from the villages

-154-

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Inside the Japanese Company
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Literature Review 10
  • 3 - The Company and Structure 22
  • 4 - The Company and Career 44
  • 5 - The Company and Life 102
  • 6 - The Company and Human Relations 154
  • 7 - Ideology, Groupism and Individualism 230
  • References 239
  • Index 244
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