1. In the 1990s, the cultural change in Japan was triggered by a weakened economy, forcing companies to cut back on the “cradle to the grave” support that companies were able to give their employees in more prosperous economic times. Nearly fifty years after the end of World War II, much of the workforce and potential workforce had begun to veer away from the traditional, Confucian values in corporate Japan, in favor of more western, capitalist values. This was due in large part to a group of managers who had “extensive experience” in the more western overseas operations of Panasonic. According to the textbook, the generation of Japanese born after 1964 “lacked the same commitment to Japanese values as their parents.” Using this year as a benchmark, one can see the traditional values fading away as the older employees become phased out, by natural death and layoffs. In the 1990s, when given the choice, many employees at Panasonic began to choose fewer “cradle to grave” benefits in favor of higher salaries, less loyalty, and less job security.
2. The trend towards more western culture in the Japanese workplace seems to be inevitability in the future, as the cost of maintaining an effective workforce is much less than the cost under the Confucian model. For example, Panasonic’s move from seniority-based bonuses to performance-based bonuses speaks volumes. This encourages more competition and in turn more innovation. The potential implications of this change are that firms will be able to remain viable, lowering the overall cost of maintaining an efficient workforce.
3. The traditional Japanese culture benefitted Panasonic immensely from the 1950s to the 1980s. The commitment from Panasonic was reciprocated by the employees, fostering loyalty and commitment to the company over their entire lifetimes. These traditional values became a liability in the 1990s because the cost of these commitments was very expensive, especially when many of the benefits received...
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