Presented at AJJ Spring Meeting 2018 April

Eat, Share and Serve:

Founder Philosophy and Community Building in Business

This presentation aims to examine how the founder philosophy influences the formation of a community in the workplace and to explore its possible implications. Few studies on business examined carefully how locally formed philosophy could be accepted and spread by the global audience without loosing its authenticity. This presentation is based on a fieldwork at a Japanese ramen shop, here called it Sakura in Cambridge (U.S.) in 2017, and aims to show how the founder philosophy that was represented along with the characteristic of Japaneseness, such as ramen and shop atmosphere, attract people across cultures to join the Sakura community. Founder philosophy states that everyone is entitled to dream, to share them and expected to eventually give back to society claiming that the shop was just a platform for people to realize their dreams rather than simply a ramen shop. Transforming founder philosophy to ideology was facilitated and controlled by series of informal rules, and members at Sakura seemed to have shared this philosophy voluntarily and believed they can dream and realize them only by joining Sakura community. This case shows that simple and positive message of the philosophy, its benefits to the members’ desires and creation of image as non-profit organization attracted people from different cultural backgrounds to create a community strongly bounded by founder ideology. It also shows how a company creates and recreates an eco system where members would voluntarily spread this spirit to outsiders to include more members as well as customers.

Keywords: community, business, philosophy, ideology, Japan