YANKEE SAMURAI by Dennis Laurie


American Managers Speak Out About What It's Like To Work For Japanese Companies in the U.S.A.
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 A front-line view of the uneasy intertwining of Japanese and American cultures as experienced by ``Yankee samurai,'' or American employees of US-based subsidiaries of Japanese companies. Laurie (Research Fellow/Claremont College) convincingly argues that Yankee samurai are a potentially vital bridge between American and Japanese cultures. He admits that his sample group--250 white- collar employees of Japanese companies based in southern California--is not representative of the 400,000 Yankee samurai nationwide. Yet many of the generalizations he extrapolates from his sample group's oral histories prove insightful--for example, that these Yankee samurai believe themselves to be more patient and less aggressive than the ``typical'' American. While the author's documentation is scant, he claims that Yankee samurai give their experience at Japanese companies higher marks than they give their tenure under American managers. Laurie's report loses some of its freshness and strength as he analyzes the broader differences between Japanese and American cultures, and many of his observations here--for example, that Americans are shortsighted- -border on clichÇs. In the end, the author's study boils down to a single question: Can these two, perhaps diametrically opposed, cultures learn to work together? Laurie offers no predictions, but he proposes guidelines for achieving a more effective partnership. It is imperative, he contends, that the US unify its fractured, multicultural society so that it can adopt ``Japanese'' corporate values that emphasize the common good above personal gain, and he hopes that the experiences of Yankee samurai will serve as a guide to this transformation. Laurie's conclusions are debatable, but by giving a voice to the growing number of Yankee samurai, he has added valuable insight into American-Japanese relations.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1992
ISBN: 0-88730-552-0
Page count: 388pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1992