1st Edition

Japanese Industrial Transplants in the United States Organizational Practices and Relations of Power

By Atsushi Sumi Copyright 1999

    First Published in 1998. This book examines the transferability of Japanese organizational practices to Japanese owned industrial transplants in the United States, and demonstrates that relations of power and conflict on the corporate structural level are equally as significant as the social and cultural differences between American and Japanese practices in the workplace. The research is based upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork at automotive transplants in the Midwest and high-tech transplants in California, as well as a case study company in New Mexico, and focuses primarily on their adaptation to the US industrial environment.
    Extensive interviews demonstrate that organizational practices of Japanese transplants are significantly different from either their Japanese or American counterparts. Relations of power at the case study company are examined in depth and reveal two contrasting forms of control. American managers tend to exert hierarchical control in the manufacturing department using a top down approach and clear distinctions between work and private lives. In contrast, the Japanese managers utilize what the author calls "poka-yoke" (fail-proof) control over the repair department. Poka-yoke control is characterized by strict attendance and dress codes, emphasizing loyalty and dedication to work. At the same time, the US. headquarters in New York and the parent company in Japan impose remote control, thus limiting the autonomy of local managers.

    Introduction Chapter 1: Problem and Literature Chapter 2: Fieldwork in the Organizational Context Chapter 3: Organizational Practices Transferred to the U.S.— The Midwest Chapter 4: Organizational Practices Transferred to the U.S.—California Chapter 5: Organizational Practices Transferred to the U.S.— The Case Study Company, Suntech America Chapter 6: American and Japanese Interaction at the Workplace—Manufacturing Department, Suntech America Chapter 7: American and Japanese Interaction at the Workplace—Repair Department, Suntech America Chapter 8: Conclusion


    Atsushi Sumi