Joumal ofMaiu^ment Research 36: one particular January 99 0022-2380
LISTENING TO ADVICE FROM HONDA*
Birkbeck College, University or college of Greater london
ABSTRACT The case of the Honda Motor Business has been cited frequently in the strategic management literature. A review reveals that Honda's strategy has been utilized to iDustrate and support seemingly contradictory positions on a series of conceptual dichotomies, namely analytica] p]anning compared to leaming, industry positioning compared to resource-based and, within the last of such, core expertise versus core capabilities. A crucial analysis of the literature shows empirical defects and a spotlight on Honda's strategic success to the overlook of it is failures. Even more significandy, explanations and basic strategy effects are learned in terms of reductionist one-sided hypotheses, a tendency which is only strengthened when strategy thinkers argument 'the which means of Honda'. This theoretical approach is specially ill suitable for Honda, a significant strategic capacity of which apjiears to be precisely the reconciliation of dichotomous administration concepts. VVestem strategy thinkers have for that reason missed a chance to develop a more appropriate and effective paradigm intended for leaming by Honda.
INTHODUCTION The repeated citation of the Honda Engine Company inside the academic and popular supervision ]iterature over the past two decades has led various academics, students, and practising managers alike to think a certain understanding of Honda, just as they might with General Motors, 3M or perhaps Genera] EUectric. Some years ago a professor of strategy in a weU-known business schoo] to]d the writer that he rea]]y ]iked Honda - 'a ]ovely ]itt]e company', ais this individual put it - which made an exce]]ent case study pertaining to MBA pupils. Sinii]kvadratmeter opinions will be widely shared by supervision educators. A closer reading with the strategic managing literature revea]s that Honda have been marshalled to compliment a variety of typically opposing positions in some with the discipline's central theoretical discussions. These include the debate about strategyprocess paradigms between the ana]ytica] planning university and the learningadaptation school, the debate in strategy content paradigms between supporters of industry analysis/market positioning and resource-based techniques, and the debate within the last of such between advocates of 'core comf> etencies' and 'core capabilities' (the debating positions have been define c]early by para Wit and Address intended for reprints:. Claire Mair, Office of Supervision. Clore Administration Centre, Birkbeck College, University or college of London, uk, Malet Road. London WCIE 7HX, UK. В© BlackweU Publishere Ud 1999. Released by BlackweU Publishers, 108 Cowley Street, Oxford OX4 lJF, UK and 330 Main Road, Maiden, MUM 02148, UNITED STATES.
Meyer, 1998). Honda's inference in these assumptive issues was underlined within a special area of the Summer mil novecentos e noventa e seis issue of the journal Califomia Management Review, where strategy analysts increasingly debated the 'true meaning' of Honda. As on previous events they did not agree. This kind of paper address two related questions. WTiat have ideal management thinkers leamed regarding Honda? What broader lessons have they drawn from their analyze of the business?. Analysis with the role played out by Honda in ideal management arguments, it will be contended, suggests that significantly less has been leamed about Honda strategy than about the functioning in the strategy' industry (consultants and academics) alone. T h e conventional paper proposes a brand new, more appropriate, and potentially even more fruitfu] paradigm pertaining to leaming coming from Honda. The paper can be oi^anized in two parts. T h e 1st part examines how Honda has been selected in to support a series of different theoretical positions in the strategic management literary works: the 'ansilytical' view advanced by Boston Consulting Group (1975). Goold (]992, ]996), Abbeglen and Stalk (1985) and Stalk and Hout (]990); the 'behavioura]' look at advanced by Pasca]e (]984), Quinn (1991,...