The daily work experiences of people in almost any part of the world are shaped by workplace innovations. Despite the vast diffusion of work practices, little is known about what it means for a company in the region to identify what it sees as the best practice and then introduce these practices in another culture which are less visible than the global exchange of products and services, but more significant. This book provides us with a closeup of eight Japanese affiliated manufacturing facilities operating in the United States and the beginnings of a reverse diffusion of innovation back to Japan. The key finding in this book is that massive global diffusion of work practices rests on something very fragile. This is the process by which individuals
and groups of people come to new understandings that enable them to adopt new work practices. It is a process termed "virtual knowledge", which can be found at that critical time when understandings are still in formation. Also , the book reveals how some organizations have anticipated and channeled virtual knowledge that is constantly emerging from different groups in the organization. This turns out to be the core building block for continuous improvement in operations and is central to the process of diffusion. The process is part of a much larger process of global diffusion from Japan, the United States and other nations to all parts of the world.
Readership: Academics and managers.
Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Associate Professor, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, Michigan State University, Michio Nitta, Associate Professor, Institute of Social Science, Tokyo University, Betty J. Barrett, and others