MANAGERIAL CONTROL IN LARGE JAPANESE FIRMS: A NEW PERSPECTIVE
The primary purpose of this study is to examine critically the mode and form of managerial control that has been employed in the Japanese monopoly firms. The review of literature shows that the Japanese management structure has at times been accused of being paternalistic and, at other times, of being the perfection of bureaucracy. We offer a new conceptualization of the Japanese management system and suggest that, though it does involve some elements of both, its essential nature is quite different. It shares with the ideal model of bureaucracy an emphasis on centralized, formal authority structures, and formalized evaluation procedures and reward scales. And it differs in its decentralization and personalization of its labor control function and collectivization of responsibility at the lower level of organization so as to develop a tighter system of control and a more flexible, adaptable work force. The method of our study was to integrate the available literature with the analysis of data from specially conducted surveys of Japanese managerial employees. A historical review of the emergence of the Japanese large-firm management system further allowed us to substantiate our first stage model. We found that with the emergence of the modern monopoly firms, the Japanese management system early began to exhibit a dual constellation of modes of control, which has persisted to the present day. Our historical exploration also discerned the decollectivization and recollectivization of the labor process at the shop floor. We found that after World War II technological rationalization destroyed the workers' shop floor organization, which had its root in the craft system of production. In turn, this allowed managerial recollectivization through the imposition of quality control (QC), which enabled capital finally to replace workers' identity with its own.