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Japanese Firms Have Given U.S. Offices More Freedom Than One Might Expect

July 31, 1988

Regarding the July 10-13 "Working for the Japanese" series:

I was disappointed in your depiction of American management at Japanese companies. I have been a consultant to the Japanese computer industry for four years and, for the past seven years, a vice president and general manager of a major Japanese firm with Southern California offices.

My experience is that Japanese business managers understand that the American marketplace requires American products, marketed and serviced by American people, and that they have given a great deal of autonomy to their American management. They have given as much, if not more, autonomy to the American management than an American company would do in any similar circumstances where they were serving a market outside the United States.

A recent Business Week article showed that 15 of the top 20 companies in market value in the world are Japanese. They would not have gained this much size by ineffective management in international markets, as implied by your articles. I think the results speak for themselves as to the effectiveness of Americans managing Japanese companies in the American market.

It is my hope that many of these successful management styles can be learned by Americans and then transferred to American companies. Perhaps you could write a series of articles on this positive aspect, rather than what I believe to be an erroneous, negative point of view.

JOHN REHFELD

San Clemente

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