Funny Business: An Outsider's Year in Japan

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9780939149186: Funny Business: An Outsider's Year in Japan

The author recounts his experiences as the winner of a fellowship to work in Japan, and shares his observations about the Japanese way of life and Western misconceptions about Japanese society

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From Publishers Weekly:

"Gary-san, if you want to get to understand us, you have to remember that we Japanese are all the same," a co-worker advised the author soon after the newly graduated American MBA-holder arrived in Tokyo on a grant to spend 12 months working for Sony. Katzenstein learned that in a culture where solitary travelers are considered strange ("normal people . . . travel in groups") and conformity is prized above all else, a foreigner will always be gaijin , an outsider. He lamented midway through his sojourn: "I was a craggy black rock in their smoothly raked white pebble garden." Though enterprising, ambitious, loaded with chutzpah and eager to view legendary Japanese management strategies in action, the rugged individualist failed to fit in, was fired from Sony after several difficult months, but remained in Japan for the rest of his allotted year pondering his experiences. While a dry prose style at times mars his account, readers will appreciate the author's candor and insights into a significant foreign power. Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Like Michael Shapiro's Japan: In the Land of the Broken-hearted ( LJ 6/1/89), this depicts the frustrations of foreigners living in Japan. Katzenstein went to Japan as a Luce Foundation Scholar to study Japanese management at Sony a few years ago. Related with considerable humor, but also with growing criticism (Katzenstein eventually loses his position at Sony because he attempts to meet with the company's top executive and founder to discuss the meaningless nature of the work he has been assigned), this serves as an excellent introduction to the problems Japan can present for the outsider. A series of concluding remarks offer a challenge to many of the commonly held assumptions regarding Japanese management techniques and the nature of the "economic miracle." Overall, an entertaining if sometimes embittered discussion. Reader's Digest condensed book selection.
- Scott Wright, Coll. of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Gary J. Katzenstein
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Katzenstein, Gary J.
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