GCI 2018 @ Hangzhou, China

Identity politics, Cosmopolitanism and Business:

Journey of a Japanese Company in Hong Kong

Abstract

The major aim of the presentation is to analyze the discourse of identity politics and cosmopolitan values in the process of translating and reinterpreting Japaneseness in Hong Kong. It is based on a long-term participant observation at a Japanese multinational retailer, here called it Ichi in Hong Kong. Numerous scholars have positively evaluated the influence of Japanese companies on Hong Kong consumers and their behaviors. In comparison to these studies, groups of scholars criticized Japanese management system to be overtly traditional and to be left behind the global standards. However, few have explored how these two different perceptions on Japan or Japaneseness could exist without conflicting with each other. This presentation examines, specifically, how local employees constructed these two attitudes in a context of postcolonial Hong Kong. Ichi markets itself as a global company while the management system was backward which largely echoes with previous management literatures. Local employees, who interpret Japanese cultures as advanced and unique before joining Ichi, were disappointed at the Japanese management system yet reconfirmed their passive perception were not wrong. These two feelings surprisingly did not conflict with each other nor reduced their positive feelings towards Japan because it resemblances to the local identity, which was mixed by Western ideology and Chineseness, and also the cosmopolitan values allow them to choose what is suitable to the occasion. This presentation implies that the translation or reinterpretation process of one culture to another is not a singular phenomenon, but a plural and dynamic process, and it has to be understood in relation to the formation of the local Hong Kong identity and the influence of Japanese culture in Hong Kong.

Keywords: identity, politics, cosmopolitanism, business, postcolonial

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