Electrical Goods and the making of the Japanese consumer
Author: Simon Partner Publisher: University of California Press, USA, 1999
ISBN: 0-520-21792-6, Pages: 303
A detailed insight into a little known but powerful business transformation
Copyright. Peter Hanami. 2012. All rights reserved,
Simon Partner has written a very detailed and insightful book that attempts to explain Japan’s rise in electrical goods manufacturing. This hardcover book is broken into six distinct chapters, a conclusion, an appendix, notes and a bibliography. Written as a history of events the reader sees the transformation of Japan starting at the telegraph’s introduction, telephone, radio and television. The majority of the book looks at the 1950’s, and 1960’s.
“ studies of the automobile industry, for example, showed that in the mid 1980’s Japanese firms could build a car in eighteen worker hours whereas their American rivals required up to forty one worker hours- and the Japanese vehicles had fewer defects” p122
The author traces the beginnings of companies such as Matsushita and Sony, interviews employees and searches the media of the time to explain how advertising was used and created, the living standards of each era, the social contract between workers and employers, as well as values and culture.
“ As consumer spending and borrowing soared in the latter half of the 1950’s, Japan’s savings rate also climbed ever upward, reaching a plateau far above savings rates in the rest of the industrialized world. In 1960 the average Japanese family was saving close to 20 percent of its disposable income” p 184
A thorough & detailed account of one of the most amazing business transformations seen anywhere in the world. A stand out point is the goals set for consumers every decade. In the 1950’s they were referred to as the three sacred treasures, namely, a television, an electric washing machine and a refrigerator. Some of the statistics will take your breath away as you relive the periods mentioned and try to picture how events unfolded & now compare them to the modern era.
Book Review – Assembled in Japan