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Going Global

Culture, Gender, and Authority in the Japanese Subsidiary of an American Corporation

Ellen Fuller

Publication Year: 2009

In this intriguing ethnography, Ellen Fuller investigates how issues of gender and identity as they relate to authority are addressed in a globalizing corporate culture. Going Global goes behind the office politics, turf wars and day-to-day workings of a transnational American company in Japan in the late 1990s as employees try to establish a comfortable place within the company.

Fuller looks at how relationships among Asians and between Asians and Americans are tested as individuals are promoted to positions of power and authority. Is there pressure for the Japanese to be more “American” to get ahead in business? Do female employees have to subscribe to certain stereotypes to be promoted or respected? How these American and Japanese workers assess one another raises important questions about international business management and human resources.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

This book began as a dissertation, and the dissertation began as part of a quest to expand my horizons in East Asia. I had earned degrees focused on China and had spent considerable time there as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. En route to those places, I sometimes had opportunities to travel in Japan and my intellectual interest grew. I started learning the language and reading widely before ...

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pp. xv-xvi

Many people and organizations deserve thanks for their contributions to my formal and informal education, their support of my endeavors to study in Japan, and their general enthusiasm for both me and my work beyond what I could ever have imagined to deserve. Tom Rohlen served as my doctoral advisor at Stanford University. His grace, intelligence, and sense of humor were instrumental to my ...

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Chapter 1. Culture, Gender, and Authority in Transnational Corporate Contexts

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pp. 1-31

This study concerns itself with the men and women who work for the Japanese subsidiary of an American corporation that I call Transco. The pseudonym reflects the parent corporation’s move toward a transnational corporate culture rather than a multinational one as part of a new globalization strategy. One idea contained within this strategy is that a transnational corporation, ...

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Chapter 2. Setting Transco within the Contexts of American and Japanese Corporations

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pp. 32-54

The organizational mix of employees at Transco contains many categories. The top of the organization comprises mostly white males expatriated from the United States. In middle management Japanese of both genders predominate, but there are also a few expatriated female and male managers sent in for two- to four-year stints. Employees in R&D who focus mainly ...

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Chapter 3. Uncertainty, Trust, and Commitment: Defining the Self in Relation to Employment at Transco

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pp. 55-79

There is little doubt that employees at Transco and elsewhere think about themselves in relation to their work organizations on a regular basis. Where choices are at least presumed to exist, employees analyze why one choice of a workplace is better than another, and corporations such as Transco spend considerable time and energy convincing both potential and existing employees why it ...

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Chapter 4. Identity and Perception at Transco: Manifestations of Confusion

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pp. 80-116

Given that organizations are collections of individuals, the uniqueness, as well as the fluidity, of a given organizational culture stems in part from its particular mix of people at various points in time. Individual employees affect both one another and the organization and, in turn, are affected by the organization as a whole. The dynamic of constant change creates a work ...

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Chapter 5. Authority as Culture and Gender Dominance

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pp. 117-150

Within any groupings of humans, definitions of appropriate presentation of self compete against one another. As was argued in Chapter 4, dispositions arise from culture and gender schemas rooted in one’s original culture as well as the hybrid culture represented by Transco. People’s definitions of themselves and others in their work environment differ, based ...

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Chapter 6. Embracing Chaos: Toward a More Genuine Valuation of Difference

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pp. 151-178

The corporation that includes Transco as a subsidiary increasingly sees itself as global, not just in Japan but everywhere, because it equates giving a directive (“Let’s go global,” to use Nobu-san’s wording) with achieving a result. While such an equation may work for any number of directives, it does not and cannot work for a directive to go global. In the first place, senior ...


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pp. 179-190


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pp. 190-204


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pp. 205-210

E-ISBN-13: 9781592136902
Print-ISBN-13: 9781592136896

Publication Year: 2009