Globalisation and Japanese Organisational Culture

An Ethnography of a Japanese Corporation in France

By Mitchell Sedgwick

© 2008 – Routledge

224 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415492164
pub: 2008-11-28
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415446785
pub: 2007-12-21
US Dollars$168.00

About the Book

Globalisation – the global movement, and control, of products, capital, technologies, persons and images – increasingly takes place through the work of organisations, perhaps the most powerful of which are multinational corporations. Based in an ethnographic analysis of cross-cultural social interactions in everyday workplace practices at a subsidiary of an elite, Japanese consumer electronics multinational in France, this book intimately examines, and theorises, contemporary global dynamics. Japanese corporate ‘know-how’ is described not simply as the combination of technological innovation riding on financial ‘clout’ but as a reflection of Japanese social relations, powerfully expressed in Japanese organisational dynamics. The book details how Japanese organisational power does and does not adapt in overseas settings: how Japanese managers and engineers negotiate conflicts between their understanding of appropriate practices with those of local, non-Japanese staff – in this case, French managers and engineers – who hold their own distinctive cultural and organisational inclinations in the workplace. The book argues that the insights provided by the intimate study of persons interacting within and across organisations is crucial to a fulsome understanding of globalisation. This is assisted, further, by a grounded examination of how ‘networks’– as social constructions – are both expanded and bounded, a move which assists in collapsing the common reliance on micro and macro levels of analysis in considering global phenomena. The book poses important theoretical and methodological challenges for organisational studies as well as for analysis of the forces of globalisation by anthropologists and other social scientists.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Siting an Organisation 1. Introduction 2. Japan’s Globalisations and a ‘Subsidiary’ in France Part 2: Organising Persons in Places 3. Personalising Socio-Technical Relations 4. Translating Power in Hierarchy: Seen and Unseen Organising 5. Mobilising Architectures of Timing and Spacing: Ethnographies of Locations, Histories of Social Relations Part 3: Incorporating Cultures: Local Reductions, Global Repercussions 6. Circulating others Among Japanese Managers: Perceiving Difference, Explaining to Ourselves 7. Postscript: Circulating Others among Anthropologists: Perceiving Similarity, Examining Ourselves

About the Author

Mitchell W. Sedgwick is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, and Director of the Europe Japan Research Centre at Oxford Brookes University, UK. He was formerly Associate Director of the Program on US-Japan Relations, Harvard University, and Yasuda Fellow at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, and affiliated with King's College, University of Cambridge. During the 1980s Dr Sedgwick was a consulting organisational anthropologist in South East Asia and West Africa for the World Bank, and later worked in Cambodia on its first post war election for the United Nations.

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hirochika Nakamaki, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka

Kirsten Refsing, University of Copenhagen
Wendy Smith, Monash University

Founder Member of the Editorial Board:
Jan van Bremen, University of Leiden

Routledge is very proud to be publishing this important series, which has already signed up a good list of high quality books on interesting topics, and has a truly international range of authors and editors.

A key aim of the series is to present studies that offer a deep understanding of aspects of Japanese society and culture to offset the impression of constant change and frivolity that so tempts the mass media around the world.  Living in Japan brings anyone into contact with the fervent mood of change, and former residents from many other countries enjoy reading about their temporary home, but there is a demand also to penetrate less obvious elements of this temporary life.  Anthropologists specialise in digging beneath the surface, in peeling off and examining layers of cultural wrapping, and in gaining an understanding of language and communication that goes beyond formal presentation and informal frolicking.  This series will help to open the eyes of readers around the world from many backgrounds to the work of these diligent anthropologists researching the social life of Japan.

Submissions from prospective authors are welcomed, and enquiries should be sent in the first instance to the series editor Professor Joy Hendry (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Organizational Behavior
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General