Matsushita: Lessons from the 20th Century's Most Remarkable Entrepreneur

John P. Kotter, Author Free Press $56 (356p) ISBN 978-0-684-83460-3
Few Americans know that Matsushita Electric Co. is one of the largest exporters of electronic equipment to the U.S., under such brand names as Panasonic and JVC. Fewer still are aware that the $75-billion-a-year Japanese company was named after its founder, Konosuke Matsushita, the youngest child of a hard-pressed family, who left school at nine to work in a hibachi shop. This ""analytical biography""-cum-management study tells how, in 1917, Matsushita began manufacturing electronic sockets and started what was to become a multibillion-dollar firm. By 1931, MEI was manufacturing more than 200 products with 886 employees. Even during the Depression, the firm expanded. The company devoted few resources to R&D, preferring to allow others to invent, but used more efficient production methods and better sales techniques to take market share from its rivals. Driven from his company after WWII, Matsushita was allowed to return in 1947, when he put it back on the fast track. Kotter (Leading Change) argues that Matsushita developed an intense desire to succeed as well as the ability to listen to new ideas and concepts. This insistence on growth manifested itself in two organizations he founded late in life: the PHP Institute (peace through happiness and prosperity) and the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management. Matsushita died in 1989 at the age of 94. Kotter has written a clear and compelling account of the factors that led to the businessman's remarkable success. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997
Release date: 05/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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