William G Ouchi is an American academic and consultant, best known for identifying a style of management
which he termed 'Theory Z'.
He described these concepts in a best-selling book published in 1981.
Latterly Ouchi turned his attention to improving the administration of local government and of schools.
William George Ouchi was born on 28 June 1943 in Honolulu to dentist Sugao Ouchi and his teacher wife Nakano.
Sugao's father Shigezo Ouchi had originally come from Japan to Hawaii to work in the sugar plantations.
After gaining a BA degree in Political Economy at Williams, Ouchi returned to Honolulu and married former school
friend Carol Kagawa. Carol's father, Lawrence Kagawa had set up the Hawaiian branch of a US insurance company
and was a regular business visitor to both the US and to Japan.
As well as giving his new son-in-law insights to differing business practices in the two countries,
through his brother, Kagawa was able to introduce Ouchi to Sony founder,
Ouchi and his wife moved to California where he enrolled at Stanford University in San Francisco to study for his MBA.
After gaining this qualification in 1967, the couple moved on to Illinois where after five years at the
University of Chicago, Ouchi was awarded his doctorate in business administration.
In 1973 with his PhD and enhanced C.V., Ouchi returned to San Francisco with his wife to take up a
post at Stanford Graduate Business School (SGBS).
This time the couple was accompanied by their 2 year-old daughter Sarah Ayako.
Their family would shortly be further extended by the arrival of another daughter, Jennifer Nakano and a year
later with a son, Andrew Sugao.
Ouchi commenced his career at SGBS,
lecturing on a first year MBA course on organisational behaviour.
Collaboration with Richard Tanner Johnson
One of Ouchi's new colleagues at SGBS
was another Assistant Professor, Richard Tanner Johnson.
Soon after their first meeting, Johnson and Ouchi embarked on a programme of external work.
Making use of Ouchi's language skills and contacts, this involved them carrying out interviews at the US
plants and offices of twenty Japanese firms.
In 1974 the pair published a short paper entitled
Made in America (Under Japanese Management).
The authors suggested the paper was "for discussion purposes only" and made the unusual request that it
"should not be quoted in any form".
The paper is full of anecdotes and opinions with little in the way of analysis or bibliography.
Its "tentative" conclusions included:
"some of our deep seated American values may be inappropriate for the times" and,
"Japanese methods are more suitable for crowded organisational life."
The collaboration ended with the paper's publication and Johnson would subsequently gain much greater
fame under the new name of Richard Tanner Pascale.
Seven years later, in the introduction to his Theory Z best seller, Ouchi gave an account of the collaboration
referring to Johnson by his new name and saying: A colleague, Richard T. Pascale, and I designed a two-phase
study to compare Japanese and American management.
In the first phase, which was conducted during 1973 and 1974, Pascale and I visited the Japanese and American
operations of more than twenty companies, each having a plant or an office in both countries.
The second phase, which involved a more detailed collection of data, was carried on subsequently by Pascale
and others, and is not reported here.
The New York Times was later to suggest that, following accusations of plagiarism, Ouchi and Pascale had now
become bitter enemies.
Type A, Type J and Type Z companies
The style and content of Ouchi's paper with Johnson/Pascale contrasts with Ouchi's other academic work at this time.
Five of his next six papers dealt with organisational control
making little reference to Japan and the Japanese,
(and none to Johnson/Pascale).
It was at this time that Ouchi became particularly interested in the work of American academic economist,
In 1976 Ouchi published a paper in which he first introduced the idea of the stereotypical US and Japanese companies
which he referred to as Type A and Type J.
He also identified some US companies with a high state of consistency in their internal relationships resembling those
of a clan or tribe.
He felt that these organisations which he classified as Type Z successfully blended American individualism with
the cooperative style of the Japanese.
This paper also gave an insight into Ouchi's own values, with statements such as American society, which has been
in a constant process of change during its turbulent 200 years, has reached a critical point.
Church membership is declining; violent crimes increasingly involve a victim who is completely unknown
to the assailant, workers feel less commitment to employers; all of us long for stability and structure
in our lives.
Theory Z Best-Seller
In 1979 Ouchi left SGBS
to take up a post with the Anderson School of Management at the University of
California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
to teach courses in management and organisation design, while conducting
research on the structure of large organisations.
This involved the Ouchi family moving 350 miles south to the beachfront Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica.
Two years later in 1981, Ouchi's keynote work - Theory Z: How American Business Can Meet the Japanese Challenge
In this book Ouchi expanded on the themes he had first unveiled five years earlier in his Type Z organisation paper,
and introduced the term Theory Z for the first time.
He described this as an emerging management philosophy, which allowed organisations to enjoy many
of the advantages of both American and Japanese systems.
The book remained in the 'best-seller' lists for five months and elevated Ouchi to national celebrity status.
It went on to be published in 16 foreign editions and at one stage ranked as the seventh most widely held book
of the 12 million titles held in 4,000 U.S. libraries.
Within weeks of the publication of Ouchi's book, his former Stanford colleague and co-worker Richard Pascale
also had a book published.
Its title was The Art of Japanese Management and it too was a best-seller.
The reason for the popularity of the books lay in the economic context of the time and a widely held view in the
USA was that the Japanese know how to manage better than we do.
The Japanese economy was growing strongly and in 1981 had become the second largest economy in the world.
By contrast, the US economy had slipped into recession with high levels of inflation and unemployment.
A contributory factor had been the
OPEC oil embargo (October 1973 - March 1974) against the
USA and other Western nations who had supported Israel after it had been attacked by Arab nations in
the 'Yom Kippur War' (October 1973).
The embargo had led to a 300% increase in global oil prices and a recession in the USA and elsewhere.
A Focus on Schools
After 1981 Ouchi continued to lecture at UCLA
and continued to write books.
Ouchi's mother, Nakano and sister, Carol, were both schoolteachers throughout their working careers and in
1982 a more modest publication Theory Z and the Schools revealed Ouchi's
own abiding interest in education.
His follow-up book for Addison-Wesley The M-form society: how American teamwork can recapture the
competitive edge was published in 1984.
In it Ouchi took the managerial and organisational thinking that he had unveiled in his Theory Z book
and ambitiously extended it into an analysis of economic society and the laws that governed it, both in
Japan and in the USA.
As a committed Republican, his preference was for the removal of legal restraints on the business sector;
in particular antitrust barriers to industry-collaboration and the 50-year old Glass-Steagall Act
which imposed a separation of investment and commercial banking.
He argued for the industry-wide teamwork between companies that had helped Japanese technology companies
achieve such success.
Ouchi took leave from UCLA
from 1993 to 1995 to serve as advisor and chief of staff to the then Los Angeles
Mayor, Richard Riordan.
Ouchi's next book detailed a study of 223 schools in six cities across North America and
concluded that schools with the most decentralised management systems performed best.
Ouchi's most recent book covers similar ground, reporting on a study of 442 schools in
eight urban districts.
Ouchi advocates choice, empowerment, effective principals, accountability and weighted student formula budgeting.
Ouchi is co-founder and chairman of The Riordan Programs, which encourage and prepare individuals
from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue higher education and careers in management.
He serves as Chair of the Nozawa Endowment which supports students from Japan who are studying at
the Anderson School and also on the Boards of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the California Heart
Center Foundation, and The Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools.
In this latter capacity Ouchi and his wife Carol have given their names to a local high school.
Theory Z: How American Business Can Meet the Japanese Challenge, Ouchi, W.G., Addison-Wesley 1981
In 1899 to the Hawaiian Sugar Company plantation at Makaweli on the Hawaiian island of Kauai
Notable Punahou alumni include US President Barack Obama, Chinese leader Sun Yat Sen and golfer Michelle Wie
as Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior and Sociology
Stanford's Organization Theory Renaissance, 1970-2000, P222, ed Schoonhoven & Dobbin, Emerald, 2010
Johnson was five years Ouchi's senior and had previously served as a mechanical engineer,
navy reservist and White House staff member. In 1973, Johnson was working on a book called
"Managing the White House - An intimate study of the Presidency" which would eventually be
published in 1974.
Ouchi, W. G and Johnson, R. T. " Made In America (Under Japanese Management)" SGBS, RP201,
Mar 74 also published in the Harvard Business Review September-October 1974, p. 61.
Ouchi, W. G. " A Novel Approach To Organizational Control" SGBS, RP159, May 73
Ouchi, W. G and Dowling, J. B. " Defining The Span Of Control" SGBS, RP168, Jul 73
Ouchi, W. G and Maguire, M. A. " Organizational Control: Two Functions" SGBS, RP222, Aug 74
Ouchi, W. G and Maguire, M. A. " Organizational Control & Work Satisfaction" SGBS, RP278, Aug 75
Ouchi, W. G. " Relationship Between Organizational Structure & Org. Control" SGBS, RP276, Sep 75
Ouchi, W. G. and Jaeger, A.M. "Type Z Organization: A Better Match for a Mobile Society" SGBS, WP314
Pascale, R.T. and Athos, A.G., Simon & Schuster 1981
Reported view of an un-named US vice president in the introduction to Ouchi's best seller
William Ouchi, "Theory Z and the Schools in 1982" School Administrator, 39 (1982): 12-19
This act was passed in 1933 in an attempt to discourage the risky investments felt to have
caused the Stock Market crash of 1929.
"Making Schools Work: A Revolutionary Plan to Get Your Children the Education They Need",
Simon & Schuster which was published in 2003
"The Secret of TSL :
The Revolutionary Discovery that Raises School Performance", Simon and Schuster 2009
(TSL standing for Total Student Load)