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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Guest Post: Inter-Business Network - Sustainability Lessons from Japan

Shizuo Fukada has developed a response to my April 09 post “Sustainability Lessons From Japan” Fukada-san is a colleague on the Global Leadership Network of AccountAbility.

Shizuo (Ricky) Fukada is President of Inter-Business Network (IBN), a Japanese company specializing in CSR and Sustainability. Until June 30th ‘09 he was corporate advisor to the Board of Directors Office at Omron Corporation , which he joined in 1994 as associate director of the Corporate Communications Headquarters. He has a total of 34 years experience in business, including 23 years of overseas assignments to the United States. He has been involved in many CSR initiatives including being Chair of Keidanren’s(JBF) Council for Better Corporate Citizenship since 2000.

Corporate management and governance style in each developed country is based on many factors and elements, but in my opinion, cultures and history are the biggest elements. The characteristics of Japanese corporate management style are largely based on historical agricultural background and wisdom in team work and collaboration, and in harmonious relations and equality in sharing harvested grains. Those are the basis to consider, when you discuss about employer/employee relations and about a smaller gap of income between the employer and employee. In Japan we have an "equality of the result" philosophy rather than "equality of opportunity" (like in the States). For a successful outcome, one shouldn’t be in conflict with the cultural philosophy. The more I experience in business, the more I believe that you cannot just imitate other's style or methods to manage a company: The challenge then is, what methodology to use, when you make investment overseas like from Japan into the US?

Obviously, there are pros and cons of the style and management systems of different companies in different countries. As we all experience at this time, global financial crisis and business turmoil, caused largely by lack of financial international systems to manage flow of money and other corporate activities. So, we are now in an era where it is not the case of US vs. Japanese corporate governance - which is better or not. We need to learn more about those differences, to wise up, to come up with new innovative management systems to bring corporate operations under control. Global competition is becoming more complex and we need Harvard-type wisdom and epoch-making innovations.

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