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What drives Japanese companies?

A large part of corporate culture involves above all relations between workers and owners. While it is true that a company is born from the possibly visionary idea of an entrepreneur, other hands and minds are needed in order to grow and develop these ideas. An understanding of the working of the relations between these two decisive parts of the company, owner and workers, is essential for an understanding of the future of every production system. Bearing in mind that these relations change according to the circumstances and the environment in which they are developed.

One interesting example to be explored is that of Japan, i.e. of one of the most important and advanced economies in the world. The study by Cole E. Short from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, takes this direction.

The research sets out to study how interpersonal relations work within Japanese companies. The goal is achieved by analysing specifically the employee-employer relations “within the modern Japanese workplace”. This produces a picture in which the culture and ideological aspects of the interactions in the workplace together with the principles on which Japanese society is founded create special working habits in companies and between these companies and other firms. Cole therefore also makes a comparison with the system of corporate relations in the USA. The study is also carried out with interviews with managers of Japanese companies.

The aim of the research, also useful for companies in other countries as well as the US, is also that of giving practical hints on business etiquette for better conducting commercial relations in Japan. An approach which also has to pay great attention to aspects that are apparently out of reach for “westerners” but which instead can represent the keystone for creating good commercial relations with companies in the land of the Rising Sun. The usefulness of the work by Cole E. Short is in fact this: a sort of working method for a better understanding of an economy which is also important for Italy.

Employee-Employer Relations in Japan:  An Analysis of Honor-Shame and Authority-Power Relations within the Modern Japanese Workplace 

Cole E. Short

Baylor University, December 2013