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postgraduate thesis: Control and manipulation : the company building process of a Japanese fashion enterprise in Hong Kong

TitleControl and manipulation : the company building process of a Japanese fashion enterprise in Hong Kong
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Wong, HW
Issue Date2013
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Zhu, Y. [朱艺]. (2013). Control and manipulation : the company building process of a Japanese fashion enterprise in Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5185934
AbstractAs the global economy has evolved, many companies have expanded their operations overseas in a constant search for potential markets in which to sell their products and services. As these companies seek to establish themselves abroad, it becomes imperative to train and to retain local employees. Despite this pressing need, Japanese companies have been widely criticized for failing to retain the services of experienced local employees. The retail industry, in particular, experiences a high degree of employee mobility and requires instant solutions for adjusting to the fast changing environment in which its firms operate. However, many companies believe in the rationality of their corporate systems without questioning suitability to the local circumstance. This thesis uses an anthropological approach to evaluate the company building process of a leading Japanese fashion enterprise (referred to by the pseudonym “Ichi”) in Hong Kong. In adopting this approach, I seek to explain the formation and expression of Ichi’s corporate ideology, and its interpretation by the firm’s employees. This analysis focuses on two primary themes: Ichi’s managerial control and the way employees attempted to satisfy company expectations in a purely superficial manner. Specifically, I adopt a participant-observation approach over fifteen months to provide a comprehensive illustration of the activity within Ichi’s Hong Kong stores. The first part of this thesis suggests that Ichi uses its corporate ideology, Ichi DNA, to control employees through its corporate system including training, ranking, remuneration, and promotion. Ichi’s implementation of its corporate system in Hong Kong seeks to apply its ideology to local employees to promote a “shared” set of values and its own institutional culture, thus unifying important principles across the company. This suggests that industrial familialism, which many scholars have identified as unique to Japanese corporate culture, only superficially illustrates the nature of Japanese companies. This thesis further demonstrates that during the implementation of Ichi’s corporate ideology, store employees individually or collectively distorted reports of their performance to attain personal career goals. This challenges the widespread perception that “harmony” is a genuine characteristic of the Japanese company. By examining the actions of different nationalities, the thesis also shows that Store Managers manage human relations within their stores primarily on the basis of different interpretations of the corporate ideology rather than their ethnic backgrounds. This similarly refutes the presumption that Japanese companies are ethnocentric in nature. Evidence from this study demonstrates that the general assumption of the efficacy of scientific management must be reexamined, as the company’s managerial practices and relationships with its employees are more heavily influenced by worker politics than the firm’s rational structure. By exploring the company building process and the effect of dynamic human relations on it, this study seeks to address the gap between corporate ideology and those practices that exemplify it, contrasting starkly with studies that claim that Japanese firms are uniquely culture- or ethnocentric.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectFashion merchandising - China - Hong Kong
Corporations, Japanese - China - Hong Kong
Dept/ProgramJapanese Studies
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/197097

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorWong, HW-
dc.contributor.authorZhu, Yi-
dc.contributor.author朱艺-
dc.date.accessioned2014-05-07T23:15:26Z-
dc.date.available2014-05-07T23:15:26Z-
dc.date.issued2013-
dc.identifier.citationZhu, Y. [朱艺]. (2013). Control and manipulation : the company building process of a Japanese fashion enterprise in Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5185934-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/197097-
dc.description.abstractAs the global economy has evolved, many companies have expanded their operations overseas in a constant search for potential markets in which to sell their products and services. As these companies seek to establish themselves abroad, it becomes imperative to train and to retain local employees. Despite this pressing need, Japanese companies have been widely criticized for failing to retain the services of experienced local employees. The retail industry, in particular, experiences a high degree of employee mobility and requires instant solutions for adjusting to the fast changing environment in which its firms operate. However, many companies believe in the rationality of their corporate systems without questioning suitability to the local circumstance. This thesis uses an anthropological approach to evaluate the company building process of a leading Japanese fashion enterprise (referred to by the pseudonym “Ichi”) in Hong Kong. In adopting this approach, I seek to explain the formation and expression of Ichi’s corporate ideology, and its interpretation by the firm’s employees. This analysis focuses on two primary themes: Ichi’s managerial control and the way employees attempted to satisfy company expectations in a purely superficial manner. Specifically, I adopt a participant-observation approach over fifteen months to provide a comprehensive illustration of the activity within Ichi’s Hong Kong stores. The first part of this thesis suggests that Ichi uses its corporate ideology, Ichi DNA, to control employees through its corporate system including training, ranking, remuneration, and promotion. Ichi’s implementation of its corporate system in Hong Kong seeks to apply its ideology to local employees to promote a “shared” set of values and its own institutional culture, thus unifying important principles across the company. This suggests that industrial familialism, which many scholars have identified as unique to Japanese corporate culture, only superficially illustrates the nature of Japanese companies. This thesis further demonstrates that during the implementation of Ichi’s corporate ideology, store employees individually or collectively distorted reports of their performance to attain personal career goals. This challenges the widespread perception that “harmony” is a genuine characteristic of the Japanese company. By examining the actions of different nationalities, the thesis also shows that Store Managers manage human relations within their stores primarily on the basis of different interpretations of the corporate ideology rather than their ethnic backgrounds. This similarly refutes the presumption that Japanese companies are ethnocentric in nature. Evidence from this study demonstrates that the general assumption of the efficacy of scientific management must be reexamined, as the company’s managerial practices and relationships with its employees are more heavily influenced by worker politics than the firm’s rational structure. By exploring the company building process and the effect of dynamic human relations on it, this study seeks to address the gap between corporate ideology and those practices that exemplify it, contrasting starkly with studies that claim that Japanese firms are uniquely culture- or ethnocentric.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshFashion merchandising - China - Hong Kong-
dc.subject.lcshCorporations, Japanese - China - Hong Kong-
dc.titleControl and manipulation : the company building process of a Japanese fashion enterprise in Hong Kong-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5185934-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineJapanese Studies-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5185934-

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