Knowledge-Driven Work: Unexpected Lessons from Japanese and United States Work Practices

By Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld; Wen-Jeng Lin et al. | Go to book overview

3
Cross-Cultural Diffusion

Success in a global economy requires mastery of the diffusion of innovation. Diffusion of knowledge-driven work systems is increasingly a primary source of competitive advantage for business. Its importance equals such traditional sources of competitive advantage as capital, technology, and geography. New production techniques and work organization systems are central to the dramatic gains that can be achieved in quality and productivity. Clearly, companies, unions, workers, and societies must understand the implications of these new work practices as well as the processes by which they are diffused.

The diffusion of work practices may begin with an organization deciding to establish operations in another location. 1 Such a decision is deceptively easy to announce, and many people do not have a genuine understanding of what is a most complex process. At the heart of the process are strategic choices regarding how to set up the work system in the new location.

Establishment of a new work system can be attempted primarily through imposition of a complete system, it can emerge out of extensive interactions, or it can unfold in other ways. Further, there are subtle, intangible elements of the process that end up having dramatic implications in the ultimate outcome. Our discussion will describe how the intangible and tangible elements of the diffusion process combine with the interactions of people to create knowledge.


The Japanese-U.S. Case

Cross-cultural diffusion has been observed since the rise of recorded history. Work practices and skills traveled over early trade routes along

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Knowledge-Driven Work: Unexpected Lessons from Japanese and United States Work Practices
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board i
  • Editorial Board i
  • Japan Business and Economics Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Contents xvii
  • 1 - Details Matter 3
  • 2 - Initial Visits to Japanese Factories 18
  • 3 - Cross-Cultural Diffusion 36
  • 4 - Team-Based Work Systems 59
  • 5 - Employee Involvement and Kaizen 71
  • 6 - Constructing Employment Security 88
  • 7 - Human Resource Management and Knowledge-Driven Work Systems 109
  • 8 - Labor Relations 130
  • 9 - Implications 150
  • Notes 163
  • Index 179
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