INTRODUCTION: JAPANESE MANAGEMENT—THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Japan is a complex nation of 120 million racially-homogeneous people set apart from the industrialized Western countries by its tradition and cultural heritage, yet distanced from the rest of neighboring Asian countries by its incredibly rapid rise to become an economic superpower. Today, Japan’s economy accounts for a staggering 10 per cent of world product. As the first non-Western country to enter the post-industrial society, the majority of Japan’s labor force today is removed not only from primary pursuits but also from secondary employment and engaged in tertiary activities. In fact, the Japanese no longer live in the Far East but reside in an area which might well be called the Middle West . Japan may thus offer an interesting and potentially useful model not only to the developed countries in the West but also to the newly-industrialized countries in East Asia. Over the last 40 years, the views on Japanese-style management have shifted quite rapidly. In this introductory chapter, we shall first examine various views held within and outside Japan before and after the “Japanese Management Boom” of the late 1970s and early 1980s. We shall then attempt to explain why the Japanese have succeeded and what they are doing to keep their neo-Confucian society as the world’s most competitive nation in business.