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Honda Motor: The Men,
Management, the Machines
By Tetsuo Sakiya
Kodansha International Press, 234 pp.
By Dave Levine
M'S ROGER Smith and Toyota's
Eiji Toyoda signed an agreement
last month to build cars together. The
agreement says (between its lines) that
America's elephantine auto industry is
in need of help.
More than anyone else, Smith knows
the punishing success of Japan's small-
car technology. Harvard's Robert
Reich thinks it would take $80 billion for
the U.S. auto industry "to retool suf-
ficiently to regain competitiveness with
Japan." So, instead of retooling, U.S.
automakers buy their way back into
business. Even Japanese technology
has a price.
These agreements among the world's
auto giants are just beginning. The auto
industry will probably be remade,
perhaps even to the point where tran-
soceanic mergers take place.
Moreover, this state will in turn be
changed; it follows with pathological
How large a change? That depends on
the automakers' decisions. Before, an
automaker was a cheerful traditionalist
living in Detroit. He quoted the Bottom
Line. He read the Free Press like the
rest of us.
But now the traditionalists are also in
Tokyo and Paris, and they are rapidly
lowering Detroit's Bottom Line. They
read newspapers whose front pages are
not colored. And in their board rooms,
they are determining the future of the
U.S. auto industry.
Who are these foreign automakers?
More to the point, how is a foreign auto
company managed? Tetsuo Sakiya's
book, Honda Motor: The Men, the
Management, the Machines, provides
some answers to these questions.
As Sakiya points out again and again,
corporate management is a product of
culture. In Japan equality is valued
above everything. The head of a com-
pany and his employees differ in that
they play different roles in the com-
pany. Nothing beyond their roles in the
company separates them.
Take Honda Motor as an example.
Soichoro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa,
the co-founders and former heads of
Honda Motor, vowed to block their sons
from entering the company. The two
men reasoned that, once in the com-
pany, their sons would be treated dif-
ferently by the other employees. In
short their sons would upset the balance
of equality among the employees.
Equality means, too, that an em-
ployee's ideas are as worthy as those of
the head of a company. Honda and
Fujisawa rarely attended the board of
directors' meetings. Because the other
directors would parrot their opinions at
these meetings, the two men stayed
away; they didn't want to prejudice the
meeting's discussion. In this way the
two men showed their respect for the
other directors' ideas.
Unfortunately, Sakiya contrasts
Japanese companies with a stilted pic-
ture of Western companies. For instan-
ce, in the West individualism is prized.
Thus, he argues, top management (one
or several persons) unilaterally decides
the company's future (see Bendix
takeover). Other employees are handed
its decisions and must implement them.
Put simply, Sakiya thinks the
Japanese will fight for the emperor or
build a terrific camshaft with the same
collective gusto. In a Japanese compa-
ny, the livelihoods of all employees are
put above the livelihood of any single
employee. The opposite is true in the
All these pictures of Western and
Japanese companies are incomplete
and very crude. Sakiya ignores a great
deal in both societies. For instance, he
overlooks the movement toward profit
sharing and Chrysler-like deals in
the West. Top management is losing its
total hold on the company. And what
about Japan? Did the habits of
feudalism completely die away in the
late 1800s? Despite its drive for
equality, perhaps distinction and rank
are yet a part of Japan.
Sakiya includes an interesting story
on the development of Honda engines
(written for the nonmechanical-min-
ded) and a short biography of Soichoro
Honda. In the book's finest chapter,
Sakiya describes the isolation of his
country and the strong influences of
China and then America on its culture.
This chapter alone makes the book wor-
This book is a success story. It details
the successes of Honda Motor and
Japan in general. It shows that history
takes very strange turns.
Though we remade Japan in our own
image, Japan is now remaking us.
Japan has already remade the
economic landscape of this state. In
time, as the agreements between the
automakers continue, we can probably
expect a new and different Occupation
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Spring Fashion Forecast
A distinct shift to the individual
NDIVIDUALITY, self-expression, and personal
style sum up the fashion outlook for spring 1983.
Annie Bower of Saks Fifth Avenue states that this is
"the season of choices, the way you put your clothes
together is most important." She foresees no single
look but rather a projection of oneself through one's
Linda Sikorski of Ayla suggests that the crisp and
clean feeling of spring is exemplified by striking
combinations of black and white. A jolt of bright color
splashed in intermittently makes a statement about
Splashes of color deliver impact and have the effect
of adding uniqueness.
As a nice contrast to the bold black and white
statement Winkelman's forecasts that bright white
and soft baby pastels compete for a role in the color
scheme for spring.
Comfort is particularly stressed this season. The
boxy Japanese look that Ayla features, and the em-
phasis on linen and natural fabrics support this
The range of choices left open to the buyer is
amazing. Trendiness is out. Fashion conscious in-
dividuals are enticed to concoct their own style in
dressing. Selections run the gamut from short jackets
By Mara Moradoff
to longer rear-end level ones. Extremely high heeled
shoes can be worn as can the basic flat pump. Mini
skirts are fine yet so are calf length ones.
"Impressive," that is how Linda perceives the
manner in which students are dressing. She feels that
they are "cleaning up their act" and dressing with an
eye to fashion. They seem to be taking more care in
their dressing. Linda notes that while in Ann Arbor
anything goes and people tend to look alike, many
students are striving to look good and pursue style as
opposed to remaining ordinary. This spring's relaxed
look lends itself to dressing up, so why not?
Annie, on the other hand, fails to note any changes
in student habits. She is hoping to see students take a
little more care in putting their clothes together.
She suspects that with the recent influx of students
in the job seeking arena a more formal look will
prevail. Perhaps cotton pants and khaki skirts will
make a more sophisticated statement than denim.
Annie views denim as a "wonderful staple" and she
feels that "there is a time and place for casual wear."
Linda of Ayla sees denim as basic. Thus, while she
claims "It is the attitude of our store that denim is not
number one," she acknowledges that it is a good
Jeans will always
promoting the popular
the tight bodied Marilyr
Accessorizing is cruc
d. Wide cinch belts an(
than the waist are big. 2
that adds color and is c
earrings and bangles, a
A striking innovation
clean matte effect for t
adds dazzle to any outfit
Detail and inventiv
spring's array of socks i
intricately designed ani
Some definite outs f
metallic or "too cutesy
the high school cheerle
She also suggests so
when establishing your
aware of what looks go
concerned about the wa
There are a number i
variety of looks to crea
all can be used to detern