One of the greatest difficulties Japanese multinationals have had is managing American managers in their US subsidiaries. The reason for this is fundamental and profound: Americans and Japanese conceive of management very differently and have strikingly different conceptions of themselves as managers and of correct management practice.
We do two things in this paper. First, borrowing from social psychology, we explore the idea of the `management self'. Second, we report our research on management self-conception and style in Japanese-owned factories or `transplants' in the USA.
The research reports the results of 34 interviews conducted with 19 US and Japanese managers in three electronics transplants. Each factory had adopted different combinations or `hybridizations' of the management styles of the two countries. The three factories had very different characters. One was dominated by Japanese management practice, another by American practice, and the third was a hybrid of the two styles. We found four factors critical determinants of management style: the nationality of the general manager, a stated preference (or lack thereof) for bicultural management, control over the budget-setting process, and the strength of the Japanese assignees