HUMAN CAPITALISM by Robert Ozaki

HUMAN CAPITALISM

The Japanese Enterprise System as World Model

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A Panglossian pitch for the dubious proposition that Japan's so-called humanistic capitalism sets a classic example for Western industrial powers. Ozaki (Economics/California State at Hayward) may be on to something; at best, however, his tract earns a Scotch verdict, i.e., not proven. A naturalized American citizen, the author advances Japan's collaborative and consensual approach to commerce as a practicable alternative to the Darwinian ethos of traditional capitalism. By Ozaki's account, the paradigmatic system features corporations that compete as well as cooperate in organized rather than wholly free markets. Further, management and labor behave as though they, not stockholders, own the companies that employ them; executive pay-rates do not outstrip those of lower-echelon personnel by substantive margins; and decision-making is viewed as a shared responsibility, with every effort made to avoid layoffs. But Ozaki undermines his case with errors of omission and commission. For openers, he argues against concentrating economic power in the hands of the assumedly small number of fat cats who supply capital to business, overlooking the fact that most Americans are shareholders, if only by proxy. The author also has an outmoded concept of labor, largely ignoring the reality that brawny blue-collar workers are an endangered species. Nor does he mention his homeland's elite civil service, W. Edwards Deming, incomes policy, and other individuals or institutions that deserve credit for making Japan Inc. a feared global competitor. As recent scandals in the Japanese banking, electronics, and securities industries attest, moreover, the island nation's capitalists may have to clean up their act before they take it on the road. Lastly, Ozaki's prose style is decidedly irritating, tending toward what could be characterized as the unattributed passive voice (``It may be held...''; ``We may argue...''; ``It is often pointed out..,'' etc.). An ingenuous but utterly unpersuasive exercise that uses neoclassical economic theory as a stalking horse for greater egalitarianism in the US workplace and marketplace.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1991
ISBN: 4-7700-1549-6
Page count: 212pp
Publisher: Kodansha
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991