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The Informant April 11, 2007

Posted by Kira in Class announcements, Organizational Design, Organizational Environment.

As I was reading my book for the project, I found a part that relates to my last blog entry.  In my last blog, I discussed a little bit about the Japanese culture or style of doing business.  I discussed how corporate takeovers used to be rare because of the deep cultural aversion to selling one’s company and how this was considered a humiliating failure by the founders and owners.  I also mentioned how there is also a cultural aversion to confrontation.  In the book The Informant, the main company ADM is involved in price-fixing with Japanese companies.  At one of their secret price-fixing meetings, the book describes a variation of a classic Japanese negotiating strategy known as “naniwabushi.”  The book states that “in Tokyo, the method is effective in resolving disputes without confrontation” (195).  I thought that this parallel was interesting.  The Japanese have maintained their strategy and culture of avoiding confrontation that was used in the price-fixing negotiations up until now in the recent article I read.  

I am half way through the book- it moves pretty quickly.  There are so many different characters and detailed conversations that take place in the book that it is hard to remember it all and keep it all straight!  I can’t believe that this investigation is a true story- how does so much illegal activity take place and be kept so quiet?  I guess that is where the organizational structure and culture come into play.

I think for our project just focusing on what is going on inside ADM, the main company, which allows for all of the illegal activity, is the best approach.  I think it may be interesting to try and set up an organizational chart for the company- it seems as though it would be very fragmented and would have bad flows of information between employees and product divisions.  Do you think it would be interesting to try and provide a recommendation for the company on how to fix their structure and maybe even design a new organization chart?  Do you think we should focus on the organization of ADM or the FBI?  The main character is also very interesting and complex- do you think we should deal with him also?  Maybe relate his actions to business ethics and how the organization of ADM allowed for his actions to take place?

Sorry it is kind of hard to understand this blog unless you have read the book- I don’t want to give too much away on here though!    



1. Jordi - April 12, 2007

Maybe I am being dense, but i didn’t get what naniwabushi means. How do you resolve conflicts without confrontation? I mean, what does it look like in practice? And, are you suggesting it led to the price-fixing?

Blogs are a tool for exploration! All is well.

I think it might be useful to do org chart for ADM for your own purposes. It may be worth looking for annual report or business cases of ADM from that period to get that info as well.

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