Managerial Communications and Performance: A Study of Decision Making and Implementation in Japanese and American Managed Firms in the United States

By Richard T. JohnsonMary Ann Maguire
1976| Working Paper No. 348

Japanese subsidiaries in the United States, representing a hybrid of Japanese and American managerial systems, were paired with American companies in ten industries. A variety of empirical measures were utilized to identify differences, if any, in the communication and decision-making processes of the two kinds of firms and the relationship between these differences and perceived and objective measures of performance. Managers at Japanese managed firms were found, as a group, to rely more extensively on consultative type decision making and to achieve higher perceived quality of implementation. Objective productivity comparisons were made between paired companies and a near-equal mix of Japanese and American firms were found to be among the high performers. This finding suggests that neither management culture has the edge on bottom line productivity. However, when the managerial traits of the high performing firms (regardless of national ownership) were examined as a subset of the total sample, they were found t o share a number of traits in common. These traits include the extensiveness of efforts to solicit input from lower levels prior to making decisions and willingness to invest substantial time and energy studying an issue prior to committing to a course of action.