By J. Abegglen

Japan's economic system and companies are coming into this century with new administration structures yet their values unchanged. Drawing at the author's research of the Fifties, monetary platforms, body of workers administration equipment, function of the company and R&D functions are re-assessed to supply a finished research of Japan's monetary and business adjustments.

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Extra resources for 21st-Century Japanese Management: New Systems, Lasting Values

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And so the foreign company can make acquisitions – but with very rare exceptions can acquire only troubled companies. And it does not follow that the foreign owner can fix a troubled Japanese company – witness General Motors’ problems with Isuzu, Merrill Lynch tripping over its Yamaichi purchase, and Daimler with Mitsubishi Motors as examples of foreign fumbling with badly run Japanese companies. The auto industry has been a special arena for foreign takeovers. That industry as so many others has had too many producers – there were 11 car, truck, and bus producers in Japan, slightly fewer now, but 3 is surely ample.

From the early 1920s, it was a central company in the Sumitomo group of companies, technology leader in the group. It has been the pioneering company in Japan’s computer industry. Like Toshiba and Fuji Electric, it was founded by a major foreign company, in NEC’s case by International Western Electric, its long-time headquarters and Tokyo factory building a copy of Western Electric’s Hawthorne plant. More perhaps than any of the others of the nine diversified electronics companies, NEC became a deeply troubled company in serious danger by the late 1990s.

Of special interest given the “life time employment” concept is the fact that average job tenure continues to increase, from 8 to 15 years for men and from 5 to 11 for women over the period from 1975 to the present. The employment system that I was encouraged to study around the mid-1950s has changed rather little. The deep commitment to those who make up the company remains intact. With the present under control, what of the future? The future for NEC as for the economy as a whole depends in large part on successes in research and development.

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