I was encouraged by Ms. Zubrycka's response to this article. When I first read the article I was tempted to dismiss it as another example of Ukraine's fascination with the "Mysterious East." Having lived and worked in Japan for 8 years of my life (and almost the same number of years in Ukraine) I am skeptical of generalizations about national characteristics and cultural features. Ironically, in many cases misconceptions are a result of the resources we use to gain a true understanding of those same characteristics and features. Often we are limited by the availability of literature and translations contribute to our misconceptions as well.
Still, we must begin somewhere. Mr. Veretnov has made a good effort to synthesize the lessons learned from the Japanese management experience. Clearly we can learn from others mistakes as well as from best practices. But my experience suggests that there is a tendency to refer to certain kinds of resource materials and not others. Sometimes we are limited by what is available. Still, relatively new areas like management consulting, cultural studies and organizational development, perhaps because of their newness, seem to attract a demand for "guru" literature.
A "guru" is not necessarily the author of an idea, but also the idea itself which becomes fashionable at some time, for a period of time, and……for a reason! For example, Japan's own fascination with its "uniqueness" produced a library of home-grown writings about the superiority of the Japanese language, the exclusivity of the Japanese mentality, and recently the effectiveness of Japanese management practices. But the concepts of life-time employment, company loyalty, and consensus decision-making, for example, are famous "myths" which were not true even 20 years ago.
The Japanese factories were and still are very different from what we read about them. The famous "Ringi" system of consensus decision making is actually a lobbying exercise to force agreement on a decision that had already been made at the top. The Japanese company "sanatoriums" are not happy communal vacation resorts for the whole family. They are pressure cookers intended to shape the Japanese employee and family all into a standard (and manageable) mold. What was described as guaranteed lifetime employment with one firm was, and is in reality, an absence of employment alternatives. A student from Poland who was studying in Japan once said to me, "The whole society is controlled by fear. Fear of not belonging to the group."
Of course there are Japanese companies who have implemented management philosophies of developing their individuals. Kyocera's director Kazuo Inamori believes in having "implicit psychological employment contracts" with his employees. Yoshiro Maruta's management approach at Kao (Japan's largest producer of consumer packaged goods) is based on his religious philosophy as a Buddhist. The motivations of these companies are described by authors Sumantra Ghoshal and Christopher Bartlett in The Individualized Corporation (1997: Harper Business Press). These are examples of companies who believe that as important social institutions they should use their economic power to add value to society and to people's lives.
Many examples of Japan's national "myth" receive a lot of attention from foreign tourists who visit "exotic" Japan to see the Zen gardens and the cherry trees. Unfortunately, the "myth" has lost a lot of its sparkle when Japan's economic bubble burst a few years ago. Still, I certainly agree that we should borrow those principles and values which Japanese "mythology" is famous for and which are relevant to our own situation. Implementing them in our circumstances becomes our own challenge. I encourage Mr. Veretnov to continue this challenge.
First at all, Thank you very match and it"s very kind of you. I agree with you, that often we want know all best examples corporations of national leaders, wish show us their benefits and achievement, but They hides real cost of victory. I can suggests that our vision about Japan reality needs to continue perfect.I firstly intersting this topic at the International Management Institute when we learned compare Japanes, Americas and European styles management of business. In our group was students, who worked in the American and European companies. I remember, that They as you, show and tell us relaible pictires in the sistems of business management, relationships in the companies. Your expirience recieve, when you was in Japan very cognitive for me.I think, that present position of Japan Economy with negative growth confirm your thought about Japan national myth. I wonder,what your opinion about perspective of development Japan sosiety?
I'm glad that you have substantive interest in these subjects. But your question is not simple. I think that development perspective of any society depends on many things. One of the factors, in my opinion, is the ability to change. And POSITIVE change very often must be supported, if not led, at the top. Taking a look at the dynamics of a society's leadership may suggest the direction in which a society is moving -- or not moving.
Alternatively, sociological and anthropological perspectives have values of their own. Since these are not my areas I will refer you to a bibliography of readings for a university course on Japanese Society (www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/dwhitney). You may be able to find something valuable in this wide selection. Best of luck to you.
I am glad your answer and thank you for useful exile about present position of Japan society. I learns defrence problems combined with competetive ability of nation on the way to prosperity. In my opinion,competetive capacity of nation depends of correct position and recognizes yourself - Who we are? What we do & why?Another words, wich we have mission&vision. I think, that diversity creative and innovative ideas, which live in the minds liders of nations see positive influence on the nation development. I suggests, that high level development of nation is key factor for effectivness model of system business management.
Unfortunately, We used east experience insufficienly.But, I belive, that Japan achivements in the social and economic life will be subjects of cognitive for us. Now,I am writing book about outsourcing, as key factor of success or philosophy of common thought. Could you tell me, how far Japanese corporations already take part in the global outsourcing process?
Best of blesses to you.
I wish you have a nice day, and i offer your attention next article, which became continuation my research Japan experience management of business.("Culture factor in the Japan experince of management")This is internet adress:
I wonder, if it possibly, Your opinion about article.
I am congratulating with Constitution day and offer your attention article about sustainable development of Ukrainian nation - "Positioning of Ukrainian nation" - adress: http://www.klubok.net/article1687.html