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Abstract

This paper aims to focus on the decision making procedure " Ringi System " of Japanese Management Process. It is a decision making process termed " Ringi " with a bottom up approach to overcome the traditional autocratic decision making practice. The paper aims at the characteristics of decision making procedure and its influence on the management style in Japan. This paper gives a detailed description of " Ringi " system as one of the important decision making processes prevalent in contemporary management practices to succeed in the global markets. Even though the " Ringi " process is viewed as time consuming by inviting more members of the organization to endorse on a decision, it still ranks high in appreciation for its nature of participatory management with collective decision making process in an organization.
International Journal of Management and Humanities (IJMH)
ISSN: 2394-0913, Volume-1 Issue-7, April 2015
10
Published By:
Blue Eyes Intelligence Engineering
& Sciences Publication Pvt. Ltd.
“Ringi System” The Decision Making Process in
Japanese Management Systems: An Overview
Srilalitha Sagi
Abstract- This paper aims to focus on the decision making
procedure “Ringi System” of Japanese Management Process. It
is a decision making process termed “Ringi” with a bottom up
approach to overcome the traditional autocratic decision making
practice. The paper aims at the characteristics of decision making
procedure and its influence on the management style in Japan.
This paper gives a detailed description of “Ringi” system as one
of the important decision making processes prevalent in
contemporary management practices to succeed in the global
markets. Even though the “Ringi” process is viewed as time
consuming by inviting more members of the organization to
endorse on a decision, it still ranks high in appreciation for its
nature of participatory management with collective decision
making process in an organization.
Keywords: Ringi / Ringiseido, Japanese Management System,
Decision Making, Consensus, Upward Communication
I. INTRODUCTION
The origins of Japanese Management Systems present the
view that history and culture play an important role in the
most of the current Japanese Management System. Some of
the possible roots and their characteristics related to
Japanese business practices include Confucian philosophy
(respect for elders, loyalty, harmony), Buddhism (humility,
work ethic, working for collective good), Bushido
(obligation, duty, honor). And the practices of rice farming
village communities in pre-modern Japan provide insights
into the origins of many key characteristics of modern
Japanese business practices such as paternalism and
collective behavior.
II. POWER / AUTHORITY AND DECISION MAKING
In most cultures the power / authority, responsibility are
associated with the significance of the decisions and their
impact on the organizational environment. In some cultures
power of an individual is demonstrated by making decisions
individually in other cultures those in positions of authority
are expected to delegate decision making to a defined group
or reach to a consensus like in Japanese organizations.
However, final decisions that emerge reflect the different
amounts of power mobilized by the parties in competition.
Decision making can therefore be seen as a critical process
in which outcomes are a function of the balancing of various
power vectors (Keeley 2001: p.154).
Manuscript Received on March 2015.
Dr. Srilalitha Sagi, Asst. Prof., Gitam School of International Business,
Gitam University, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India.
III. DECISION MAKING
A decision is supposed to be convincingly valid, it needs to
contain built-in justifications and excuses if it results in
unexpected outcomes (Keeley 2001: p.154). The process of
decision making is a set of interactions through which
demands are processed into outputs (Pettigrew 1972).
Decision makers are expected to produce outcomes that are
in consonant with their goals, as the decisions are influenced
by power in the organization and by communication
patterns. Decision makers strive for mutually acceptable
solutions countering with different values, personalities,
backgrounds leading to delay in process and conflicts.
IV. RINGI PROCESS: A DECISION MAKING
TECHNIQUE OF JAPANESE MANAGEMENT
SYSTEM
The Japanese corporate communication system is anchored
in the socio-cultural values of the society, as a whole the
effective corporate communication system is related to the
high level of productivity and technological innovation
(Erez 1992). Communication networks in a Japanese
corporation are highly formal and informal systems with
top-down, bottom-up, horizontal and diagonal channels
(Erez 1992: 50).
Ballon (1988) states that in contrast to the linear
pattern with a definite point of origin for the communication
flow and the decision making process, in the Japanese case
the pattern is circular, whereby any single point in a circle
can become the origin (in Keeley 2001, p. 149). The
traditional decision-making process in Japanese firms is
referred to as the “Ringi” system. The word Ringi in reality
consists of two parts, the first being of “Rin” stands for
submitting a proposal to one’s supervisor and receiving their
approval, the second “Gi” meaning deliberations and
decisions. The Ringi system is a traditional way of
managerial decision-making in Japan. The system involves
circulating proposals to all managers in the firm who are
affected by an impending decision. The Ringi system goes
through four stages: a. Proposal, b. Circulation, c. Approval,
d. Record. Proposals are generally initiated by middle
managers, though sometimes they may also come from top
executives.
In a “Ringi” system the ideas and plans are
discussed, developed, and refined in the informal meetings
among the employees. This activity of informal discussions
is a kind of pre-meeting stage which is called as
Nemawashi”. The key point of “Nemawashi” activity is
to explain the details of an idea that is being proposed to
promote for a decision to be made. This “Nemawashi”
activity of “Ringi” system acts as an essential means of
knitting together as many people as possible into the vital
function of the decision making process.
“Ringi System” The Decision Making Process in Japanese Management Systems: An Overview
11
Published By:
Blue Eyes Intelligence Engineering
& Sciences Publication Pvt. Ltd.
The procedure of “Ringi” can be described in the following
way: it usually starts at the lower level of management, even
if the initiator is a higher-level manager, however, in almost
every case he or she will give the idea to his or her
subordinate(s) and let him (them) propose it. There are at
least three good reasons for that. First, the first-line
managers, as it is believed, are closer to the problem, and
because of that, they have more information about it.
Second, it has to start at the managerial level because
decision-making is a typical managerial activity. Third, this
is the way how the lower level managers can demonstrate
their managerial skills to their superiors.
V. FORMAL CIRCULATION OF A PROPOSAL /
DOCUMENT – RINGI – SHO
The lower managers are advised to refer a few routine
decisions to top management through a certain procedure.
He or she must draft a formal document that is known as a
ringi-sho, which is usually a printed form in which
managers fill in their ideas and circulated among executives
for their formal approval. The Ringi-Sho” is presented in
such a way as to seek top management’s approval on a
specific recommendation of a subordinate. When the formal
Ringi-Sho” is ready, it must be circulated among various
sections and departments that will be affected by the
decision. Once created, the “Ringi-Sho” is submitted for
signatures through top section heads or individuals on which
all the members of the group can affix their seal - indicating
in the manner of its affixing, whether they are for or against
or undecided. At any stage in this process, it may be
necessary for the originator of the “Ringi-Sho” to modify
and resubmit the document. The indication of the approval
is done by a manager’s personal seal - known as the
procedure of “management by stamps”.
When the president approves the “Ringi-Sho” by
affixing his or her seal, the decision declares to be final.
The role of the president in the decision-making procedure
is also interesting. His or her approval is, of course,
necessary but the president’s decision is usually based on
the approval of the rest of the executives. Final
implementation will be quick because prior agreement has
already been accomplished.
Figure 1. Formal Circulation of a Proposal for
Approval
VI. CONCLUSION
The Ringi” decision making process is democratic in
nature, with greater participation of people, and easy for
implementation as formal approval is made with a great
involvement of employees at all levels. For the “Ringi”
system to operate effectively, certain conditions must
prevail. it calls for a good organizational culture with
harmony among the employees and seeks for a well
organized communication pattern at work place. Much of
the discussion, negotiation, bargaining, and persuasion are
performed through mobilization of personal networks. To
make this possible, organizational and physical setting must
be such as to encourage regular and frequent face-to-face
interaction. Another basic condition to make
the “Ringi” system effective is a strong sense of shared
understanding and values among participants.
The “Ringi” system receives criticism for its long process
for consensus, and is perceived as a problematic one in a
cross cultural context as decision making procedures vary
from culture to culture in the international business. Even
though the “Ringi” process is viewed as time consuming, it
still ranks high in appreciation for its nature of participatory
management with collective decision making procedure in
an organization.
REFERENCES
[1] Aoki, M. – Dore, R: The Japanese Firm: Sources of Competitive
Strength, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1994
[2] Ishikawa, A. – Mako, C. Warhust, C.: Work and Employee
Representation, Chuo University Press, Tokyo, 2006
[3] McMillan, Ch. J.: The Japanese Industrial System, Walter de Gruyter,
New York, 1985
[4] Miyazaki, I.: The Japanese Economy, The Simul Press Inc., Tokyo,
1990
[5] Ouchi, W. G.:Theory Z – How American Business Can Meet the
Japanese Challenge, Addison Wesley Publishing Co.,
Massachusetts, 1981
[6] Rudy, J.: Organization and Management of Japanese Industrial
Companies, Alfa, Bratislava, 1988
[7] Shigeo, S.: Toyota Production System, Japan Management
Association, 1981
[8] Heller, T. "Changing Authority Patterns: A Cultural
Perspective." Academy of Management Review 10, no. 3 (July 1985):
488–495.
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