The Culture-Excellence approach, the Japanese Management approach, and the Organizational Learning approach However, It should be said that Burner does not adequately circumscribe the notion f ‘paradigm’ and, If we were to follow Thomas Skunk’s lead, then these three movements would probably not qualify for paradigm status, whereas the previously discussed approaches (classical, human relations and contingency, could possibly fit the definition of a paradigms better). Culture-excellence is very much an attempt to counter Japanese competitiveness by drawing on and re-shaping the American and British traditions of individualism and free market liberalism. It emerged in the early asses and its principal exponents (Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, 1982; Rosetta Moss Canter, 1989; and Charles
Handy, 1989) have attempted both to predict and to promote the ways in which successful (excellent) companies will and should operate In the future. Peters and Waterman, Canter, and Handy argue that organizations are entering a new age, where farmland themes are taking on different meanings and are being expressed In a new language. Contrasting the old with the new, they argue that: CLC Muscle power is being supplanted by brain power: the ability to make intelligent use of information to create ideas that add value and sustain competitiveness. Organization structures will be flatter and hierarchical and bureaucratic controls will e replaced by cultures that stress the need for, and facilitate, flexibility and adaptation.
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Above all, organizations will need to develop open, flexible, pragmatic and strong cultures, which help to maintain a learning environment that promotes creativity, entrepreneurship, ownership and teamwork amongst all employees. The Japanese Management approach is a very different animal. It has been developed In Japan over ten past oh years. Not only Is It Delving extensively practice in Japan, but, at least until recently, its success was never disputed. The Japanese approach, not unlike Peters and Waterman’s Culture-Excellence approach, revolves around the so-called ‘Seven As’ – Strategy, Structure, Systems, Staff, Style, Shared Values, and Skills.
However, it is not simply the merits of each of the individual As which have given the Japanese their competitive edge. Rather it is that they are devised and adopted in such a way that they are integrated and mutually supportive of each other. Because of the success of the Japanese economy and Japanese companies from the asses onwards, the Japanese approach attracted much interest n the West, especially in the I-J, where Japanese inward investment (by household names such as Honda, Ionians and Toyota) generated a great deal of debate regarding the impact and merits of ‘Separation’. This was also the case in the USA, where Japan and Japanese methods were seen, in turn, as either a threat or a lifeline to American industrial pre-eminence.
Organizational learning came to the fore in the early asses. Leading management thinkers, in particular Chris Arises (1992), have been interested in organizational learning for over forty years. However, it is only in the last decade that the concept has become popularized as an engine for organizational competitiveness through the work of Sense (1990) in the USA and Peddler, Potbelly and Burgeoned (1989) in the I-J. One of the key benefits claimed for organizational learning is that it is a universal approach which draws on, and is consistent with, both Western and Japanese organizational traditions (Huddled and Monika, 1993; Monika, 1988; Ouch’, 1988; Whitehall, 1991; Probes and Bushel, 1997).
The core characteristics of organizational learning which most writers would agree upon are that: An organization’s survival depends on its ability to learn at the same pace as or faster than changes in its environment. 0 Learning must become a collective and not Just an individual process. 0 There must be a fundamental shift towards systems thinking by an organization’s members. 0 This gives an organization the ability to adapt to, influence and even create its environment. Needless to say, none of the three approaches are without drawbacks or criticisms. In particular, there are five concerns which should be highlighted all of which relate to ‘one best way, people, politics, culture and change management: .
One best way: The one clear message which emerges from it is to be wary of any theory or proposition which claims that it is the ‘one best way for all situations and all organizations. Yet all three of the approaches discussed in this chapter appear to advocate Just that. 2. People: The Culture-Excellence and the Japanese approaches also leave much to be desired with regard to people. Both approaches rely on a workforce split into a privileged core and a relatively unprivileged periphery. Under both approaches there is a strong emphasis on commitment to the organization taking precedence over all else, even family life. Therefore, long hours and short holidays are the norm under Don systems.
I en Japanese approach appears at least to offer more Coo security IT only for the privileged core. 3. Politics: The issue of organizational power and politics has received extensive attention over the last 20 years (Buchanan and Buddha, 1999; Dawson, 2003; Husking and Buchanan, 2001; Cotter, 1982; Minuet, 1992; Proffer, 1981 and 1992; Hillocks, 1994; Yammering and Danseuses, 2002). Given that organizations are social entities and not machines, power struggles and political in-fighting are inevitable. However, the three approaches discussed in this chapter do not appear to acknowledge or incorporate this adequately into their perspectives. 2 4. Culture: The next concern to which these three approaches give rise is culture.
Proponents of all three approaches treat culture in a rather subordinate fashion and leave themselves open to the accusation that they gloss over the difficulty of changing culture. 5. Change management: The Culture-Excellence approach has little to say about how change should be achieved, despite acknowledging the radical transformation it is advocating. Peters (1993) advocated a ‘Big Bang’ approach to change – ‘change radically and do it quickly seems to be his advice. Handy (1986), on the other hand, seemed to adopt a more gradualist approach to change – big changes over long periods. Canter et al. (1992) advocated a combination of both; they argue that major changes, especially in behavior, can only be achieved over time.
Though organizational learning is explicitly directed at enabling organizations to change, its proponents are vague and inconsistent in specifying how one leads to the other. The Japanese approach, however, is more specific. It advocates creating a vision of the future and moving towards it in incremental steps (Kamikaze) at all levels of the organization. The Japanese are extremely able at this process, which has given them the reputation as a nation which makes ambitious long-term plans which are slowly, relentlessly and successfully achieved. However, it is debatable whether this approach could work in many Western countries.