Management Styles





Management Styles

Manufacturing jobs Japanese style

Manufacturing can be defined as the process of using machines, tools and techniques, resources and labor to produce goods and services for sale. Manufacturing jobs on the other hand is the process of creating jobs that are involved in the production of new products and services. In Japan, this process has come to be widely known as the Japanese style due to its grown popularity. The main constituents in the process of manufacturing jobs Japanese style include the Japanese management style, which refers to the unique differences that the Japanese management techniques has compared to other management techniques practiced in the western countries and the five S organization methods present in the organization of the work place.

The Japanese management system has become popular in the western countries mainly because of its high labor productivity growth rate that often translated to increased production rates. Another reason for its popularity has been the fact that it has enabled Japan to transform its economy into the second largest economy in the world. The different and unique properties that the Japanese style management exhibits includes the decision making policies,  the dynamics in career and job security, the existence of a  pay and promotion system that is based on seniority and the presence of unions within organizations that caters for all employees. A majority of these unique characteristics have been influenced by the Japanese culture, a fact that has always been subject to criticism. These properties include life employment and seniority promotion.

The Japanese management style is preferable to the American management style because of the managerial autonomy that comes along with it. This right to self-government is particularly advantageous when it comes to the comparison of the relationships between the managers and the shareholders in both Japanese companies and American companies. In Japanese companies, the managers have authority over the stakeholders and this gives them an added advantage when competing with companies both local and international. This is because the managers do not have to worry about satisfying the needs of the shareholders, which in most cases contradicts with their priorities. This is effective because in most cases the manager can just chose to ignore the passive interests of shareholders who hold insignificant percentages of stake.

In contrast to Japanese companies where the managers can influence the ownership of the company, the western management is completely separated from ownership. The interests of the stakeholders are held with the highest regard by a board of directors because they are the ones who own the companies. The board of directors is usually made up of external entities mainly because they are responsible for dealing with cases of mismanagement in the company. American shareholders also interfere with the financial management decisions of the company because they expect to be given a share of the company’s profits in the form of dividends. This is usually not the case in Japanese companies because the most preferred financial decision is normally the decision to invest in the various departments of the corporation.

Another advantageous area of the Japanese management system is the human resources management. This area of the Japanese has aroused attention from the western management systems for years. Several scholars like Pascale have argued that the trust of the managers to their employees is widely influenced by the Japanese culture. The Japanese management style has been widely praised by other management styles for its emphasis on the application of social skills and spiritual beliefs that is abundantly present in their culture. Therefore, the work force is often characterized by disciplined and responsible employees. The Japanese management is popularly known for its unique human resource management practices such as the lifetime employment of workers, job rotation, the Ringi system of decision-making and the consistent training of the staff within the firm.

Another unique property is the integration of enterprise trade unions in the management structure of Japanese corporations. This unique property is usually a basic organization in Japan’s labor movements. The trade unions are usually cited by the western management styles as a competitive advantage in favor of Japan’s management systems. It is made up of all the employees of the company with no bias along the lines of occupation or job status. The competitive advantage presented by unions is that it offers the protection of its members from potential abuse by the management. This is done with moderation because of the simple fact that the any damage to the company may also cause the damage of their own interests. This unique property although rich in advantages is usually shunned by western and other management styles. This is because of the frequent work stoppages due to strikes, which eventually leads to the lack of trust between the management and the union.     

Can GM change?

            General Motors is an American based corporation that is usually categorized as one of the world’s biggest company. This has although not been the case for the past decade because it has been suffering from huge sales drops due to a wide shift in its customer base to Asian based corporations. For instance, in 2006, the estimated net production of General Motors was 8.8 million vehicles while that of a highly competitive rival, Toyota was estimated to be 9 million vehicles. This trend of dropping production levels is threatening to the future of any corporation and it has been significantly caused by the various management issues that it faces and its reluctance to change.

            One of the management issues faced by General Motors is their lack of innovative and creative ideas to develop new products. In contrast, Asian based companies like Honda and Toyota are aware for a corporation to exist in a competitive market today, there is need to emphasize innovation and creativity among employees. For instance, Honda encourages employees to constantly challenge and question the management. This is effective because ideas are born through discussions between different levels of the company. This approach is also employed by Toyota in motivating its employees. General motors on the other hand are resistant to change. Their strategy is usually based on the rebadging. Rebagding can be defined as the duplication of the once successful design across several brands. This approach is usually used by corporations that desire to cut down on costs but it has the disadvantage of suppressing the ability of employees to become innovative and creative.

            Another management issue that is faced by General motors is its inability to offer a variety of products for different classes of people worldwide. Companies like Toyota have embraced the idea of globalization. They are flexible in their production because they understand the different buyers from different countries appeal to different designs based on cost, fuel efficiency and speed. Today, Toyota is leading General Motors in the production of vehicles that smaller, cost friendly and fuel-efficient. The main reason behind this is that General motors are resistant to change towards this emerging trend. Their designs are focused only on the preferences of the United States based consumers. General Motors create their designs based on the belief that entry to foreign markets is entirely dependent on the success of a national brand. This belief totally disregards the different needs of foreign buyers and this explains why the foreign customer base is shifting towards Asian countries.

            General motors management are also affected by poor labor relations. This is evident from the frequent strikes that are carried out by their workers. The workers are usually opposed to management decisions such as closing down of plants, reduction of benefits and the increase in automation. The main reason behind these activities is usually to cut down the cost of production. For instance, in 2008, General motors downsized 30,000 employees by closing down a dozen plants. The remaining workers had their salaries lowered and their benefits deducted. This kind of labor relations is very different from exhibited in Japan style management. In Japan based corporations like Toyota, the labor unions are usually used to ensure that the workers are not abused by the management. This is accomplished by showing support to the work force by being flexible about the job design by integrating autonomy and variety in their tasks.

            In conclusion, the answer to the question “Can General Motors change” is a factor of the management style being used to run the corporation. As long as the management style supports backward principles like rebadging and the cutting of production-costs, the possibility of change is elusive. For change to be effective, big steps have to be made in the direction of the Japanese management style. The corporation needs to embrace valuable principles like globalization and human resource motivation that are widely practiced by their competitors from the Asian countries. There should be improved labor relations and the managers should encourage the application creativity and innovation to improve their designs.  

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