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About this book

Japanese carmaker Honda has pioneered a new breed of multinational enterprise - true manufacturing at the global scale. Honda has been a leader in confounding predictions that Japan's carmakers would and could never transfer their success abroad, and that a wholesale 'Japanization' of the west would be provoked if they did. The book covers manufacture, research and development, sourcing of components, human resources and labour relations, collaboration with western firms, political controversy, and the role of concepts and ideas, in Japan, North America, and Europe.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

The Japanese Firm goes global

Frontmatter

Introduction: Underestimating the Japanese

Abstract
In 1962, the Honda Motor Co., a Japanese motorcycle manufacturer founded fourteen years previously, made its first automobile. Entering the four-wheeler business had been a hurried affair, rushed along because it looked as if the Japanese Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) would try to prevent new firms from joining Japan’s small automobile industry. MITI’s fear was that the sector’s international competitiveness would be undermined by a plethora of small producers unable to reap economies of scale. Between 1958 and 1962 Honda had moved fast, and its engineers came up with a small truck and a small sports car so that Honda could claim already to have joined the ranks of the automobile producers.
Andrew Mair

1. Thinking About the Japanese Firm

Abstract
In the previous chapter we suggested that there is a difference between the philosophical approach we tend to use in the West and how firms like Honda think and act. In this chapter we’re going to pursue this difference further, to sharpen up our ideas before we proceed. The discussion is divided into three parts.
Andrew Mair

2. Honda at Home Base

Abstract
Honda is an interesting example of what small companies can do.1
Andrew Mair

A ‘Self-Reliant Motor Vehicle Company’ in North America

Frontmatter

Introduction

Abstract
Japan’s vehicle exports to the United States and Canada boomed during the 1970s, with its share of the big US market soaring from 4 per cent in 1970 to 23 per cent in 1980. All eyes turned to the Japanese automobile industry. Why were the Japanese so successful? What could American industry learn?
Andrew Mair

3. Honda’s Big Push

Abstract
When we announced our plan in 1980, industry analysts and many of our competitors thought it was too great a risk. It definitely was not viewed as a competitive threat.1
Andrew Mair

4. Screwdriver Plant or Independent Automobile Producer?

Abstract
Well, right now in the auto business ‘produce here’ is an overstatement. In the typical Ohio Honda or Tennessee Nissan the high-value parts, transmissions and most engines are produced in Japan. That means US workers miss out on jobs offering not only higher pay but greater opportunity for learning and advancement.1
Andrew Mair

5. Honda’s Just-in-Time Region

Abstract
Competition in the North American market is going to become very tough in the early 1990s. The firms which succeed will be the ones with the best supplier network.1
Andrew Mair

6. Mobilizing Human Resources

Abstract
Can the peculiar ‘Japaneseness’ of [Japanese industry’s] success be transferred onto the international scene? There is little doubt that Honda, perhaps even more than some other Japanese companies, may have problems. Can one imagine a white-suited, Honda-style manufacturing operation set up in Peoria? Perhaps.1
Andrew Mair

7. People, Machines, and Making Automobiles

Abstract
That plant is already where we’d eventually like to be.1
Andrew Mair

Fortress Europe: Inside the walls

Frontmatter

Introduction

Abstract
The story of Japanese car manufacturing investment in Europe is both similar to and different from the North American experience. The comparison is fascinating, and has much to tell us about the ultimate shape of the global local corporation.
Andrew Mair

8. Working with a Western Partner

Abstract
To negotiate with the British in English in a typical English plant is not easy. They discuss, discuss and discuss, but they do not reach a conclusion .… The greatest thing we learned from Austin Rover is how much we can be internationalized. We learned little technically, a lot culturally.1
Andrew Mair

9. Honda Builds Its Own Base

Abstract
Throughout the world, Honda strives to work in harmony with its host nations. The goal of each Honda business within these countries is to develop and perfect independent technology. This policy helps create products of even higher quality, designed from global perspectives. In Europe, Honda is building a truly European business.1
Andrew Mair

10. Rover Learns How to Make Cars Again

Abstract
We had our share of problems with Honda to start with. Then, after a while, it all sank in. Why all the aggravation? They’re right, we’re wrong. All of a sudden the concept changes, and things fall into place.1
Andrew Mair

Global local corporation

Frontmatter

11. Global Local Corporation

Abstract
One of our biggest challenges is how we will establish the ‘Honda Global Network,’ a system whereby Honda production facilities around the world become complementary supply bases for world markets.1
Andrew Mair

Backmatter

Additional information