Risk-Taking Acts and Local Racialized Masculinities in a Japanese Auto-Parts Company in the United States

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Kumiko NEMOTO, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Japan
The auto industry has recently garnered attention because of some large recall scandals. Yet we know little about the workplace contexts in which these and other defective products have been produced and concealed in auto-supplier plants, or about how and why seemingly unethical practices were tolerated and sometimes legitimized. Also, regardless of increasing global competition and economic pressures in the auto industry, little research has been done to examine the organizational contexts in which the pressure to increase profits leads to managers and production workers engaging in risk-taking to achieve their goals. Based on the ethnographic observation at a Japanese auto-parts plant, this paper examines how workers and managers engage in profit- and productivity-driven acts and seeks to understand why some of these harmful customs are legitimized. It focuses on three groups of men—Japanese managers, American managers, and American production workers—in a financially struggling Japanese auto-parts company. The paper, looking at how profit-raising pressures legitimize masculine enactment, discusses the following findings: (1) that the local managers manipulate accounts and budgets, and non-managerial workers engage in fraternal validation; (2) that the local managers assert racial and gendered authority through their use of intimidation; and (3) that production teams protest and hide defective products. The firm’s authoritarian management, lack of consideration for substantial management reform, and sole emphasis on profits seem to have made the managers’ and workers’ employment of deceitful leadership almost inevitable. The conclusion discusses some of the implications of these findings for global management and our understanding of local masculinities.