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This book discusses management philosophy based on case studies in companies in Japan, Korea and China. In an era of increasing globalization and the internet society, it is time for companies to re-examine their mission and existence. Repeated corporate scandals and global environmental issues have revealed the need for CSR (corporate social responsibility) and business ethics. At the same time, cross-cultural conflicts in the workplace highlight the necessity for management to integrate multiple values. In other words, the importance of value in a company has to be reconsidered.

This timely book re-evaluates the issue of management philosophy in the context of the global society. It approaches the issue of management philosophy from the perspective of keiei-jinruigaku, the anthropology of business administration, presenting interdisciplinary research consisting of fields such as management studies, anthropology, religious studies and sociology. By focusing on the phenomena of transmission of management philosophy to other areas by cultural translation, the book reveals the dynamic process of the global transmission of management philosophy.



Chapter 1. What Is Cultural Translation of Management Philosophy?

“Management philosophy” is one of the important themes that has drawn attention in business administration research; however, new issues have emerged with the global expansion of companies. An important issue, in particular, is the transmission and acceptance of management philosophy which is accompanied by establishing foreign sites of a company. How should the management philosophy of the headquarters be communicated to overseas branches that have different cultural and social backgrounds? What outcomes and issues will arise as a result of such transmission? In a different cultural situation, will the management philosophy be transmitted with the same meaning as in the home country?
“Management philosophy” generally means a company’s action policy or the management’s beliefs and is often designated as a certain phrase; however, our research does not only cover these elements that have been “turned into text.” Instead, it is understood as a “dynamic process” that is “generated” through interactions with the surrounding environment, with a focus on the founders. Then, this is interpreted by those who accept it and “transmitted” through reinterpretation, and there is “succession” as times change over the years. The purpose of the research is to investigate the transmission of management philosophy from the viewpoint of “cultural translation.”
Izumi Mitsui

Chapter 2. Honda Motor Co., Ltd.’s Overseas Expansion and the Transmission of Its Management Philosophy: The Power to Realize the “Dream”

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. was founded by Soichiro Honda in Hamamatsu, Japan, in 1948 as a motorcycle production and sales company, with approximately 20 employees and a capital of JPY one million. After 3 years of establishment, Honda became Japan’s leading motorcycle production company. In 1958, it launched Super Cub, a long-lasting product. Honda grew rapidly to occupy the top spot in global motorcycle sales.
In 1959, Honda established a local corporation in the United States, taking the first step toward an overseas expansion. Soon after, in 1963, production and sales of (four-wheel) automobiles began, and its business expanded worldwide in three categories: motorcycles, automobiles, and general-purpose engines. In 2019, Honda had approximately 220,000 employees and was already selling more than 30 million units worldwide in consolidated base.
Honda’s management philosophy, which has inherited since its foundation, has supported its growth to be a global company. This chapter will describe the company’s management philosophy, how it has been propagated to overseas and been changing over time, and the efforts and translations involved in this propagation. The study in this chapter is based on the participant observation by one of the authors and the interviews conducted with ex-executives of Honda.
Masataka Kosugi, Izumi Mitsui, Tatsuya Deguchi

Chapter 3. The Creation of a Corporate Philosophy in a Japanese E-Commerce Company: A Case Study of Rakuten

The purpose of this chapter is to clarify how a corporate philosophy is created and how it works in the corporate culture at a company succeeded in globalization. Our research subject is Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce company. Rakuten is a leading company of Internet services in Japan, and since it adopted English as its official language, it attracted the attention of those interested in corporate globalization.
To describe the process whereby Rakuten created its corporate philosophy, we referred to the books written by Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani and documents related to Rakuten’s corporate philosophy. We also interviewed several employees who have been working on Rakuten’s system development for more than 10 years and asked them what globalization and Englishnization brought about.
The survey revealed that Rakuten’s corporate philosophy is a system of values, the mission, and practices, which is called “Rakuten Shugi” (Rakuten basic principles). Rakuten has developed its own values created through practices, and it has updated its mission over time, and thus Rakuten Shugi operates as a guide to adapt to the rapidly changing Internet environment.
Yasuhiro Watanabe, Kazuhito Isomura

Chapter 4. Changes to the Corporate Philosophy in Response to Corporate Globalization: A Case Study of Globalization in Olympus

The corporate philosophy is generally considered to be an invariant and continuous foundation for management. However, some companies have changed their corporate philosophy over their long history to meet the demands of their ever-changing environments. Olympus, a Japanese manufacturer of digital optical products, has gone through four major revisions in its 100-year history. In this chapter, we examine the relationship between the processes of corporate globalization and changes in the corporate philosophy and corporate culture, by analyzing the changes in the corporate philosophy in response to new management perspectives in relation to the theme and content, and the subject and object of the message conveyed by the corporate philosophy.
Masahito Kitamura, Tetsuya Takahashi

Chapter 5. Transmission of Management Philosophy: Beyond the Differences in Customs and Norms in Foreign Cultures

This paper focuses on the phenomena that arise when trying to convey management philosophies in foreign cultures and indicates conflict and interactions arising between the company on one side and the social environment and local personnel on the other. Seconded managers from Japanese companies are expected to convey not only the knowledge of how to do the work but also attitudes toward work and management philosophies so that the company can provide products from a region with a different culture than Japan with the same level of quality as those products produced in Japan. However, seconded managers are struck by a variety of problems in this process because of language barriers and differences in customs and social norms. This study examines the case of blue-collar workers in China and white-collar workers in the United States. In the local social environment, the seconded managers serve as the interface in trying to fuse companies’ ideals with the local institution. Japanese companies emphasize “awareness” (the ability to predict situations/analytic capabilities), and these are abilities that are often not codified. One must cultivate “social humans” with a sense of the commons in order to approach this abstract concept.
Masayo Fujimoto

Chapter 6. The Philosophy of the Yakult Group and Its Propagator, the Yakult Lady

Yakult, a lactic acid beverage drink, and the Yakult Lady, who delivers it to customers, are not only the sellers but also the propagators of the company philosophy. In this article, we describe Shirota-ism and the Yakult Lady Dealer System.
Shirota-ism is the business philosophy of the Yakult Group and comprises three ideas, namely, “preventive medicine,” “a healthy intestinal tract leads to a long life,” and “a price anyone can afford.” The Yakult Lady Dealer System is a unique sales system used by the company. Most of the dealers are married housewives, and they deliver the products directly to their customers’ homes. This system has been introduced not only in Japan but also in other countries where Yakult is available. The role of the Yakult Lady is both to deliver the products and to propagate Shirota-ism through conversations with their customers.
Based on the case studies of two sales companies, the article discusses that the role of the Yakult Lady, who originally simply sold products in the early days, is changing to one that embodies the philosophy of the foundation of Yakult, which contributes to people’s health.
Akiko Okuno

Chapter 7. A Sociological Approach to Management Philosophy of Chinese Family Businesses in a Transition Period: The Case of Ningbo Fotile Group

As China shifts from a high-growth to a low-growth economy in recent years, management models that provide guidance on ‘how a business can be sustained longer’ are being sought after by many companies. The search for new management models has led to various directions, but one of the most notable directions is an approach towards traditional Chinese philosophies, particularly Confucianism. Some companies have already adopted Confucianism-based management, and the most prominent actor in this trend is the Ningbo Fotile Group. Based on fieldwork and existing literature, this paper discusses the development of a management philosophy based on Confucianism at Fotile and the way how the philosophy is put into practice. The paper then places the case of Fotile within a cultural context that surrounds family businesses in the Chinese society and identifies relevant implications.
Mitsuo Kawaguchi

Chapter 8. Practicing the Company Philosophy to Survive: The Competitive World of Samsung Group

This chapter examines the penetration and diffusion of Samsung’s management philosophy throughout the Samsung Group in South Korea. Samsung is the largest conglomerate in Korea and includes Samsung Electronics, Korea’s largest manufacturer of consumer electronics that is involved in the business of electronic parts, electronics, machinery, heavy industry, chemical, finance and insurance, and construction. The rapid growth of Samsung, especially Samsung Electronics, has attracted worldwide attention. Samsung has been studied from the perspective of management strategy. However, little attention has been given to the penetration and diffusion of Samsung’s management philosophy. Based on existing literature and interviews with ex-employees of Samsung and their families, I find that the mechanism through which Samsung propagates its company philosophy is by employing “message-driven management,” using strong messages, suggestive parables, and impressive performances. I explore the developments involved in this process by first presenting an overview of the history of Samsung from its founding to the present. Then, I discuss the management philosophy of Samsung. Finally, I analyze how Samsung’s management philosophy has penetrated the company’s culture and has been diffused among employees.
Hiroshi Iwai

Chapter 9. Asian Financial Crisis and LG Electronics Paradigm Shift

LG’s management philosophy can be briefly summarized as “value creation for customers” and “human-centered management.” LG prioritizes its customers, who serve as the foundation of the business, to ensure their maximum satisfaction. LG’s management philosophy of respecting human values and harmony has been handed down from its predecessors. Among Korean companies, LG stands out for its unique corporate culture and history. Although Samsung’s scale and sales volume are higher, LG has pioneered the development of the Korean electronics industry and taken it forward. Up until the 1980s, surprisingly, LG maintained the top ranking as a Korean conglomerate. Against this background, this study explores the transformation of the management philosophy and strategy of LG Electronics. The study further examines if LG has managed to strengthen its market competitiveness while coping with the changing business environment and to confirm its superiority in the global market from inception to the present. In particular, the study focuses on LG’s global expansion and the transformation of its competitive strategies both before and after the Asian financial crisis.
Seongbong Hong


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