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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

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Notes from Toyota-Land: An American Engineer in Japan

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Notes from Toyota-Land: An American Engineer in Japan Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1996, Darius Mehri traveled to Japan to work as a computer simulation engineer within the Toyota production system. Once there, he found a corporate experience far different from what he had expected. Notes from Toyota-land, based on a diary that Mehri kept during his three years at an upper-level Toyota group company, provides a unique insider's perspective on daily work life in Japan and charts his transformation from a wide-eyed engineer eager to be part of the Japanese Miracle to a social critic, troubled by Japanese corporate practices.Mehri documents the sophisticated culture of rules and organizational structure that combine to create a profound control over workers. The work group is cynically used to encourage employees to work harder and harder, he found, and his other discoveries confirmed his doubts about the working conditions under the Japanese Miracle. For example, he learned that male employees treated their female counterparts as short-term employees, cheap labor, and potential wives. Mehri also describes a surprisingly unhealthy work environment, a high rate of injuries due to inadequate training, fast line speeds, crowded factories, racism, and lack of team support. And in conversations with his colleagues, he uncovered a culture of intimidation, subservience, and vexed relationships with many aspects of their work and surroundings. As both an engaging memoir of cross-cultural misunderstanding and a primer on Japanese business and industrial practices, Notes from Toyota-land will be a revelation to everyone who believes that Japanese business practices are an ideal against which to measure success.

Review:

"Mehri documents his three years working in Japan as a computer simulation engineer for a subsidiary of Toyota in this book, which is neither a satisfying social critique nor a thorough introduction to Japanese work culture; instead, Mehri provides some of both, but readers looking for either will be left wanting. The author draws on a diary he kept during his time abroad to re-create moments and experiences in and out of the office, and describes interactions with his own colleagues as well as observations of the blue-collar labor force on the manufacturing floor. Mehri argues that the dominant culture at the company is a 'culture of rules,' consisting of rules written on signs and in memoranda, unwritten rules that employees pick up instinctively and rules regarding language and manners 'that are learned culturally, simply by being Japanese or living in Japan.' Mehri explores the peculiarities of Japanese corporate life, recalling the trouble he unintentionally caused when he asked about a coffee machine for the workplace. At times, the Dilbert-esque bureaucracy at Toyota seems similar to that common among large American corporations. The author recounts his experiences off the clock, too, discussing meals he shared with co-workers and friends in yakitori places and neighborhood bars. While some of Mehri's recollections are not engaging and some parts of the book could be more fleshed out, the narrative has moments of genuine insight." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780801442896
Foreword:
Perrucci, Robert
Publisher:
ILR Press
Foreword by:
Perrucci, Robert
Foreword:
Perrucci, Robert
Author:
Mehri, Darius
Subject:
Management
Subject:
Infrastructure
Subject:
Industries - Automobile Industry
Subject:
Corporate culture -- Japan.
Subject:
Automobile industry and trade -- Japan.
Subject:
Business - General
Publication Date:
20050931
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
231
Dimensions:
9.18x6.24x.84 in. 1.13 lbs.

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Notes from Toyota-Land: An American Engineer in Japan New Hardcover
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$36.75 In Stock
Product details 231 pages ILR Press - English 9780801442896 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Mehri documents his three years working in Japan as a computer simulation engineer for a subsidiary of Toyota in this book, which is neither a satisfying social critique nor a thorough introduction to Japanese work culture; instead, Mehri provides some of both, but readers looking for either will be left wanting. The author draws on a diary he kept during his time abroad to re-create moments and experiences in and out of the office, and describes interactions with his own colleagues as well as observations of the blue-collar labor force on the manufacturing floor. Mehri argues that the dominant culture at the company is a 'culture of rules,' consisting of rules written on signs and in memoranda, unwritten rules that employees pick up instinctively and rules regarding language and manners 'that are learned culturally, simply by being Japanese or living in Japan.' Mehri explores the peculiarities of Japanese corporate life, recalling the trouble he unintentionally caused when he asked about a coffee machine for the workplace. At times, the Dilbert-esque bureaucracy at Toyota seems similar to that common among large American corporations. The author recounts his experiences off the clock, too, discussing meals he shared with co-workers and friends in yakitori places and neighborhood bars. While some of Mehri's recollections are not engaging and some parts of the book could be more fleshed out, the narrative has moments of genuine insight." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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