Japanese Management Philosophies: From the Vacuous to the Brilliant

by Jeremiah Sullivan



Japanese management philosophies emerge both out of ancient traditions of thought in Japan and from the post-World War II thinking of business elites. Much of what the non-Japanese reading public has encountered about these theories has been either too narrowly focused or downright wrong. In fact, Japanese ideas about organizations and managing run the gamut from the vacuous to the brilliant. The vacuous body of work is part of the nihonjinron, a collection of writings rooted in religious teachings, samurai codes, and European fascist thought. Fortunately, it appears not to be as influential as a brilliant series of related ideas about work, the nature of a company, the use of power by managers, the uses of failure, and the function of work groups. In sum, Japanese management is as much a rational as a cultural phenomenon.

California Management Review

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