Globalisation - the global movement, and control, of products, capital, technologies, persons and images - increasingly takes place through the work of organisations, perhaps the most powerful of which are multinational corporations. Based in an ethnographic analysis of cross-cultural social interactions in everyday workplace practices at a subsidiary of an elite, Japanese consumer electronics multinational in France, this book intimately examines, and theorises, contemporary global dynamics. Japanese corporate `know-how' is described not simply as the combination of technological innovation riding on financial `clout' but as a reflection of Japanese social relations, powerfully expressed in Japanese organisational dynamics. The book details how Japanese organisational power does and does not adapt in overseas settings: how Japanese managers and engineers negotiate conflicts between their understanding of appropriate practices with those of local, non-Japanese staff - in this case, French managers and engineers - who hold their own distinctive cultural and organisational inclinations in the workplace. The book argues that the insights provided by the intimate study of persons interacting within and across organisations is crucial to a fulsome understanding of globalisation. This is assisted, further, by a grounded examination of how `networks'- as social constructions - are both expanded and bounded, a move which assists in collapsing the common reliance on micro and macro levels of analysis in considering global phenomena. The book poses important theoretical and methodological challenges for organisational studies as well as for analysis of the forces of globalisation by anthropologists and other social scientists.
Mitchell W. Sedgwick is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, and Director of the Europe Japan Research Centre at Oxford Brookes University, UK. He was formerly Associate Director of the Program on US-Japan Relations, Harvard University, and Yasuda Fellow at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, and affiliated with King's College, University of Cambridge. During the 1980s Dr Sedgwick was a consulting organisational anthropologist in South East Asia and West Africa for the World Bank, and later worked in Cambodia on its first post war election for the United Nations.