Monthly Archives: January 2009

Made in Japan (1988)

mijMade in Japan (1988) is the story of Sony, formerly the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, and its ascent from a small company started by young engineers in a bombed-out Tokyo building to becoming the world’s leading consumer electronics company. It is written by Akio Morita (with some help from professional writers), one of the founding members and later CEO of CEO. Morita vividly describes the dismal conditions in which Sony was born and the many challenges it faced as the young promoters tried to build a world class company from the ruins of a devastated nation. (Japan, with Germany and Italy, was one of the nations that lost the second world war, in addition to being bombed by two atomic bombs).

Akip Morita started his career when “Made in Japan” had negative connotations about product quality. It would take many years from companies from this devastated nation to create their niche in the world and be counted among leading global companies. The book presents Morita’s ideas on how companies can create a quality niche for themselves as well as the hard struggle when companies try to compete at a global level. The book is interesting not only for a Japanese and American audience, but also business students and managers from countries like India and China who are trying to lead their companies in a global market.

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The Rise of the Rogue Executivve

rre The Rise of the Rogue Executive: How Good Companies Go Bad and How to Stop the Destruction is a hard-hitting book by Professors Leonard Sayles and Cyndia Smith. The book takes a strong stand against the lack of ethics in contemporary American businesses.  It describes, in great detail, the ethical lapses committed by American businesses in the last few years. The authors’ case is that the rogue executive is not an exception at the upper, or lower, echleons of American business, and many sections of our society must accept responsibility in the prevalence of white collar crime. The authors’ critique the role of business schools, press and journalists, investors, regulators, Congress and governments, auditors and consultants, and the larger public in supporting and encouraging unethical business practices. The book concludes with a discussion of how the authors believe things can be fixed and changed.

The book was written long before many of the unethical business practices that occupy the front pages of our newspapers today occured: Bernie Madoff’s largest Ponzie scheme, the fall of Satyam founder Ramalingam Raju. Messers Sayles and Smith provide an in-depth examination of some of the things that are wrong with American businesses today, and many of the issues they discuss apply equally well to businesses in many developed and emerging economies  that are imitating (or at least trying to imitate) American capitalism. The one major shortcoming of the book is repetitiveness- Examples are repeated in different places in the book and parts of the book seem very similar to other parts. Despite such drawbacks, the book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding and improving business ethics.

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