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Japanese and American Business Management Approach

The special attribute of the boss is that he makes "his" own decisions, and that he and he alone is answerable for them. American business rhetoric is fulled with appeals to the "tough-minded," independent, unsentimental -- ultimately, socially unconnected -- boss (e.g., Batten, 1978).

The American intermediate manager characteristically strives to approach as nearly to that ideal as possible. Thus there is always a tension -- often a creative tension -- between the tendency toward centralization, with the top boss having all authority directly, and the tendency toward decentralization, which intermediate managers having greater autonomy (that is, being more boss-like), in turn for which they have greater personal responsibility for the performance of their departments or divisions.

There is no real Japanese equivalent to the concept of "boss." The characteristic hero of Japanese tradition is not the lone cowboy, but the samurai, whose heroic deeds are often performed to avenge the honor of a fallen leader. A masterless samurai, a ronin, was not to be envied for his independence, but pitied for having no place in the web of relationships that make up Japanese life.

Japanese managers are thus likewise closely bound up in a web of relationships. They are expected not merely to "perform," but to display, exemplify, and foster the collective spirit of the enterprise as a whole. Indeed, Japanese management has more the flavor of the military than of American civilian bossdom.

In American business culture, the boss makes the decisions, and stands or falls by them. In Japanese business culture, decision-making is ultimately collective, and the group as a whole stands or falls by its decisions. "In Type Z organizations," says William Ouchi (1981, p. 78), speaking of firms with a Japanese-style management philosophy, "... the decision-making process is typically a consensual, participative one ... in which many people a...

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Japanese and American Business Management Approach. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:03, August 24, 2017, from
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