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2.7 A Community Bound Together by Common Fate

It is unknown when Morita began to emphasize the company as a community bound together by common fate. He had expressed such a view at least as early as the 1960s, as shown in the Sony-maru paragraph above.

Morita stated in 1986: “The company is a community bound together by common fate. You are, so to speak, the crew of the ship, Sony-maru. If the ship sinks under the water due to a serious error by one of the crew members, all of the crew members are immersed in the water. You should be a person sharing a common destiny with us.”

Morita urged the new employees to be aware of being a crew of the Sony-maru, which is a community bound together by common fate, and called their attention to the hard fact that an error by a member may cause a big loss affecting the life and death of the crew. “School tests give marks from 0 to 100, but company tests may result in tens of thousands or minus tens of thousands.” He requested them strongly to change their sense of value.

This is backed by the understanding that the company may make a profit and is always in danger of passing out of existence. As an enterprise is exposed to competition, he pointed out, “Even though you do your best and succeed, the company loses in a competition if someone else made stronger efforts to succeed early.” He sometimes named competitors such as Matsushita, Toshiba, RCA, and Phillips. Morita made the new employees keep in mind that the company in the free economy structure cannot endure except through victory in competition.

A lot of young people have yearnings toward Sony's atmosphere of freedom and hope and aspire to become members of the company. However, Morita's reference to a community bound together by common fate may have been confusing for many new employees. No matter what they thought, Morita urged each to work for all on his/her own responsibility. Each cannot have his/her own way in everything in the company. It was strongly requested that they each position themselves as a company fighter sharing a common destiny.

In 1983, Morita spoke about the roles of top management and employees in the community bound together by common fate. “The chairman plays the role of a Russell snowplow to map out the company's future course and open the way. Once the way is opened, the president and all of the members of the company have to go forward at full speed so that the company may not lose in the competition. You should be trained to participate in the competition, absorb what you have learned and dash forward to become a strong business soldier for Sony.”

Morita compared the company to a ship and a Russell snowplow and positioned the company as a community bound together by common fate, where long-term employment was a premise and the roles of upper and lower were definitely assigned even though they wore the same uniforms. The first consideration was that each individual shared a destiny with the company. Even Sony was not free from the principle of community, and furthermore Sony rather tried to foster the consciousness of such a community. This is clearly evident.

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