Adaptation and Context
Edited by Anders Örtenblad
Chapter 6: The curious case of Japanese management: a nation as a panacea
AbstractIn the late 1980s Japanese management turned into a panacea. Japanese manufacturers made deep inroads in export markets of several high-visibility products, such as automobiles. The successes required explanations, which were presented primarily by foreign observers. The case was made in a wide variety of terms ranging from national culture and industrial policies to work practices and quality circles. As the Japanese bubble economy crashed and the 1990s turned into a lost decade that still continues, several of the issues that were used to explain success now explained failure. The Japanese case is a reminder that the success of a nation is not equal to the success of a few leading industries and that managerial action seldom is powerful enough to overrule macroeconomic and demographic trends.
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