Leadership and Management Success in Japan
1. INTRODUCTION In this book, we have raised and taken up a question concerning the performance of Japanese companies. Since the Japanese seemed to be invincible in the 1970s, and in the 1980s seemed to have faltered, why were some Japanese firms doing well? Our main purpose was the analysis of the causes and factors that led some Japanese companies to succeed during the 1990s. We were concerned with the value business leaders create, too often overlooked in Japanese firms. Japanese management tradition seems to regard the bottom-up process as more important than the top-down process. Consequently, CEOs are even seen as expendable or fungible leading to appointment of people with hackneyed ideas, often preferring to imitate competitors’ strategy. The objectives of the book, exposed in Chapter 1, were specified in six questions we aim to answer throughout the book. These questions are: 1. What common traits do the successful firms possess? 2. Are there some distinctively different approaches to business? 3. How do the different approaches differ in effect? Is one approach more successful than the other? 4. Why do these different approaches exist? Can they co-exist in the same company? 5. Do the different approaches add value to a business? How? 6. How can firms continue their success even if their leadership changes? To answer these questions, four successful Japanese companies and their business leaders were studied. We chose Nissan, the automobile company that was close to bankruptcy a few years ago and was successfully brought to recovery...
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