INVASION OF THE SALARYMEN by Jeremiah J. Sullivan

INVASION OF THE SALARYMEN

The Japanese Business Presence in America
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 From Sullivan (Univ. of Washington Business School): a study that's part exploration of the role of Japanese corporations in American life, part critique of the current US-Japan dialogue, part how-to for Americans working for Japanese managers--and far too meandering and diffuse to offer a proper treatment of its many subjects. America's view of Japan, according to Sullivan, is polarized between the ``bashers'' and the ``apologists.'' The author attempts to critique both schools, along with their popular incarnations, and to formulate a middle ground. From a macro-perspective, he argues that the US has no reason to fear Japan or Japanese investment. Sullivan amasses a broad battery of figures and assertions, ranging from the fact that the US is generally a more productive nation than Japan to a full-scale assault on Japanese institutions as ``second-rate'' and responsive only to ``narrow constituencies,'' and on the Japanese business community (its ``oligopolization'' places Japanese companies at a competitive disadvantage in the fiercely contested US market, Sullivan contends). On a micro-level, the author similarly attempts to demystify and detoxify the negative image of Japanese ``salarymen'': He declares that Japan's universities churn out ``amazingly ignorant'' and ``lazy'' entry-level workers who are unprepared for their stints in the US. Sullivan concludes that because most salarymen like the lifestyles they lead in the US, many will become Americanized, helping Japan achieve internationalization. While the notion of translating the salaryman's motivations and behaviors for an American audience is intriguing, Sullivan's analysis is too often fraught with broad generalizations and sweeping leaps of logic, many of which don't ring true (e.g., that the American business press gets much of its information about Japan from ``Japanese propaganda mills''). While Sullivan is right to decry the gap in the current literature on Japan, he fails to stake out new territory here.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1992
ISBN: 0-275-94404-2
Page count: 376pp
Publisher: Praeger
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1992