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Neo-Confucianism and industrial relations in Meiji Japan

Stefania Lottanti von Mandach (Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 2 September 2014




This paper sets out to explain the poor nature of industrial relations in Meiji Japan (1868-1911), especially the puzzling lack of Neo-Confucianist values.


This paper combines two approaches. First, it draws on and scrutinizes the major literature. Second, it uses a case approach.


First, we find that a widely accepted assumption used in many management (and other) studies on Japan, namely, that Neo-Confucianism was institutionalized in Tokugawa Japan (1603-1867), is distorted. Second, we find that the poor nature of labor relations in Meiji Japan can be explained by and is the product of a multitude of factors, both indigenous and imported from abroad.


First, this paper provides a novel explanation for the poor nature of labor relations in Meiji Japan. Second, this paper corrects a widely held assumption on Japan that is frequently used in management studies.



Lottanti von Mandach, S. (2014), "Neo-Confucianism and industrial relations in Meiji Japan", Journal of Management History, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 387-408.



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