Department of Management


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Management Systems 3 (1991), pp. 375-80.
Copyright © 1991 Maximilian Press, Publisher. Used by permission.


Teams are rapidly becoming the management technique of choice in American industry (Fortune, 1990). Spurred on by the pervasive and often dramatic success of Japanese management in America at places like NUMMI in Freemont, California, Honda, in Marysville, Ohio, NISSAN in Smyrna, Tennessee, MAZAK, in Florence, Kentucky, DENSO in Battle Creek, Michigan, and J.V.C. in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, team organizations are being implemented in large (General Electric and General Motors) and small American companies. Our study of Japanese transplants in the U.S. (Graen & Wakabayashi, 1990) suggests that several hybrid versions of Japanese team organizations work most effectively with American employees.

Our thinking about effective organization of human talent has clearly been influenced by the findings of over twenty years of research on both Japanese and American management systems. Moreover, our current paper is strongly influenced by our understanding of the driving processes of Japanese team organizations both in Japan and America. It is probable, therefore, that our colleagues who have not been immersed in the examination of Japanese team organizations in both Japan and America may not understand where our theorizing is originating. Let us make it clear where we are coming from in our paper by outlining the basic postulates of the hybrid model of the Japanese American transplant.