Patterns of Creativity in Japan Lessons from Successful Japanese Companies – A Resource

Are Japanese Hierarchies Flat?

Japanese organizations are characterized by ‘finely graded hierarchies and narrow spans of control’.  They are likely to be smaller, more specialized and less decentralized and multi-divisional than U.S. firms. Even so it is possible to observe status rankings which relate only loosely to decision making and responsibility.

This ‘fine-grained’ system may have a positive effect on motivation, providing a clear career path for lifetime employees. It also may help reduce conflict that arises from status polarization.

Example: From a comparative study of Japanese and U.S. factories.

Source: Lincoln, J.R. (1989). Employee work attitudes and management practice in the U.S. and Japan: evidence from a large comparative survey. California Management Review, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp.89-106.