Academic journal article The South East Asian Journal of Management

Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness of Japanese-Style Management Abroad -Some Evidence from Southeast Asia

Academic journal article The South East Asian Journal of Management

Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness of Japanese-Style Management Abroad -Some Evidence from Southeast Asia

Article excerpt

Japanese-style management' is, the 'particular Japanese way' of managing companies, people, structures and processes - has been effective in Japan as well as overseas (Abo, 2015; Firkola, 2006; Ichimura, 1985a; MacColl, 1995; Negandhi et al., 1985, 1987; Pudelko, 2009; Stiles, 2009; Swierczek and Onishi, 2003; Yacuzzi, 2011).

There has been a constant, though small, stream of research on Japanese-style management abroad in general (Abo, 2015; Bartlett and Yoshihara, 1988; Cool and Lengnick-Hall, 1985; Dcdoussis, 1995; Tang ct al., 2000; Yacuzzi, 2011 ; Ybema and Byun, 2009) and more specifically on how it works within a western context (Florida and Kenney, 1991; Noorderhaven et al., 2007; Tayeb, 1994) or within an Asian or Southeast Asian context (Gill and Wong, 1998; Ichimura, 1 985a; Konomoto, 2000; Negandhi et al., 1987) - in particular in Thailand (Kosiyanon and Yoshihara, 1985; Onishi, 2006; Onishi and Mondejar, 2011; Sriussadapom, 2006; Swicrczck and Onishi, 2003), Vietnam (Kim et al., 2012; Nguyen and Aoyama, 2013; Vo and Rowley, 2010), Malaysia (Abdullah and Keenoy, 1995; Imaoka, 1985) and Indonesia (Ichimura, 1985b).

So far, Japanese-style management abroad has been investigated mainly along the lines of transferability and adaptability - that is, whether it can be transferred as it is or whether and how it needs to be adapted to the specific (economic and socio-cultural) local environments and conditions the companies face. What has not been researched so far is how inclusive or exclusive Japanese-style management is for those working within the organisation.

Thus, this research concerns the inclusiveness and exclusiveness of Japanese-style management abroad - that is, in what ways, and to what extent, Japanese and local managers and employees are either included or excluded by the values, management styles and ways of decision-making prevailing in their organisation.

The widely held assumption in the literature is that Japanese-style management is highly inclusive (e.g. Alston and Takei, 2005; Ebisuno, 2014; Fukuda, 1988/2011; Moriguchi, 2014; Noorderhaven ct al., 2007). Such a stereotypical portrait is mainly based on the well-known general features of Japanese-style management (Fukuda, 1988/2011, p. 72), such as group orientation (emphasis on group harmony, wa), community orientation (concern for people), collective decision-making by consensus (ringi system and nemawashi), group duties and responsibilities, life-time employment, comprehensive welfare programmes, seniority-based pay and promotion.

In contrast, it will be argued here that Japanese-style management (abroad) is indeed inclusive, but in rather different way(s) from those the popular literature suggests. It is at the same time inclusive and exclusive, and that both its inclusive and exclusive characteristics raise serious questions about the appropriateness of Japanese-style management.

The next section will introduce a conceptual model of the inclusiveness and exclusiveness of Japanese-style management, followed by a brief section describing the methodology of the research carried out. The subsequent sections will then provide findings and their analysis with regard to prevailing values, (personal) management styles, and decision-making and participation. Conclusions will be drawn in a final section.


A Conceptual Model of the Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness of Japanese-Style Management

Most business organisations are organised and managed in hierarchical terms - that is, organisational structures and processes as well as social relationships are based on the principle of differentiation. Accordingly, the opportunities, rights and duties of all members of the social system are deliberately allocated unequally (Diefenbach, 2013, pp. 37-38).

In such a general sense, Japanese companies are not different from western companies (though they differ, of course, greatly in the scope and way they are organised). …

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