Major Themes of the Case Study
This case study examines the practices of Chiba, a Japanese company that has largely succeeded in implementing and integrating its corporate philosophy with its American workforce. Chiba's primary corporate philosophy is one of honesty towards its customers and responsibility towards its employees. While Chiba employees from Japan work longer hours than their American counterparts, the corporate culture is strong enough that employees feel invested in the company and work more on their own volition.
Japanese Management Practices in the United States
When discussing whether the Japanese management practices used by Chiba could work in the United States without adaptation, given the case study, you should consider the cultural values and differences at play. In Japan, the corporate culture is one of mutual cooperation. As the Chiba executive explains in the case study, Americans have a more individualistic approach. While Chiba has had success in integrating its philosophies with its American workforce, the process has not been without challenges. The company has not adapted its philosophy or practices, but it has made their adoption by American workers voluntary. For example, workers are not required to sit in on most morning meetings or calisthenics sessions, but over time, they have come to recognize these as important aspects of the company's culture.
Adapting Chiba's Practices
John and Ken could adapt Chiba's practices to their corporate culture by taking a flexible approach to developing and implementing their corporate philosophy. Like Chiba, they would benefit from slowly acclimating employees to the Japanese business philosophy and allowing them to participate on a voluntary basis. Over time, their efforts to educate their workforce should be effective in convincing their workers of the importance of the new policies and procedures, such as workplace cooperation, extended hours of operation, and honesty among the sales force. In the beginning, John and Ken may have difficulty convincing their American employees to sit in on non-mandatory meetings, but over time the benefits of these practices should become obvious and encourage them to join in.
Intriguing Elements of the Chiba Approach to Business
There are many interesting aspects of Chiba's approach to corporate culture, including their employee review system and their approach to authority. While Americans are used to identifying those who hold the most power in a given company, there is a more equitable division of power among Chiba's upper-level management. You could also discuss the fact that Chiba offers its managerial employees competitive but not particularly high salaries. Despite this, its employees remain dedicated due to the strong corporate culture and the fact that they are encouraged to be honest with customers.