Panel title: Selective Evidence: Legitimating and Affirming Identities in Asia-Pacific
Presentation title: Corporate system and its implementation: Lessons from a Japanese company
Key words: system, hospitality, customer service, manual, Japaneseness
This presentation anthropologically examines the implementation process of a corporate system and its effects on employee behaviors at a Japanese fashion giant, here called it Ichi, in Hong Kong. As the largest Asian fashion retailer in 2015, Ichi expanded its business aggressively overseas. With the aim of becoming a real global company, Ichi started a unique campaign that aims to disseminate the Japanese spirits, in particular the Japanese hospitality or “omotenashi” spirit. Serving customers with traditional Japanese hospitality has been regarded as ideal and Ichi embodies this into the written form, a Customer Service Manual as well as in a promotional system so as to ensure and to facilitate the progress. Field data I collected through a one and a half year participant observation at Ichi stores shows a unique picture. Employees who did not share the corporate ideology have been largely influenced by the act of memorizing and repeating the Customer Service Manual in their daily work life and started to serve customers as the way company expected. However, the field data also shows that many of their performances were manipulated so that they could satisfy their own interests, which was to get promotion. We may conclude that the company has succeeded in achieving their goals, but employees may not have to compromise their interests to get what they want. This implies that the conflict discourse within the organization could be interpreted differently in the various local contexts.