This paper develops an alternative to Erin Meyer's influential argument that national culture determines how people in a nation behave, thereby creating invisible boundaries that divide nations according to behavioural stereotypes. Whereas Meyer makes the implicit assumption that we could observe national culture and its effect on behaviour as if from a God's Eye point of view, we might do better to begin with an Insider's Eye perspective on whom we could trust to do what. If we take too much for granted, we may miss invisible boundaries that matter; which might have happened when the English executive, Michael Woodford, became president and CEO of Japan's Olympus Corporation, only to find himself fearing for his life after exposing fraud that his Japanese colleagues thought wise to hide. Woodford's startling story is used here to consider three conceptual questions. First, how might power mediated by what people imagine influence the evolution of institutional ecologies, together with invisible boundaries that divide insiders from outsiders? Second, why should management theorists move from an objective God's Eye perspective to Insider's Eye reflections on power mediated by imagined institutions? And third, if we want to avoid falling foul of invisible boundaries, what should we do?
Adelstein, J. (2010) Tokyo Vice, Constable, London.
Ames, W. (1981) Police and Community in Japan, University of California Press, Berkeley CA.
Anderson, B. (1998) ‘The goodness of nations’ in Anderson, B. (ed). The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World, Verso, London, pp.360–68.
Anderson, B. (2006) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Revised Edition), Verso, London.
Aoki, H. (2009) ‘Buraku culture’ in Sugimoto, Y. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp.182–98.
Bateson, G. (2002) Mind and Nature, Hampton Press, Cresskill NJ.
Blackburn, S. (1998) Ruling Passions: A Theory of Practical Reasoning, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Blackburn, S. (2009) ‘Am I free? Choices and responsibility’ in Backburn, S. (ed). The Big Questions: Philosophy, Quercus Publishing, London, pp.28–37.
Cairncross, F. (2001) The Death of Distance 2.0: How the Communications Revolutions Will Change Our Lives, Texere, London.
Chang, E. (2018) Brotopia: Breaking up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley, Portfolio/Penguin, New York.
Daniel, E., Di Domenico, M. and Nunan, D. (2018) ‘Virtual mobility and the lonely cloud: theorizing the mobility-isolation paradox for self-employed knowledge-workers in the online home-based business context’, Journal of Management Studies, 55, 1, pp.174–203. doi:10.1111/joms.2018.55.issue-1
Dezecache, G. and Dunbar, R. (2012) ‘Sharing the joke: the size of natural laughter groups’, Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 6, pp.775–79. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2012.07.002
Dunbar, R. (2011) How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks, Faber and Faber, London.
Gilson, R. (1999) ‘The legal infrastructure of high technology industrial districts: Silicon Valley, Route 128, and covenants not to compete’, New York University Law Review, 74, 3, pp.575–629.
Gomulkiewicz, R. (2015) ‘Leaky covenants-not-to-compete as the legal infrastructure for innovation’, U.C. Davis Law Review, 49, 1, pp.251–304.
Harford, T. (2017) Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy, Little, Brown, London.
Hill, P. (2003) The Japanese Mafia: Yakuza, Law and the State, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Ito, S. (2017) Press conference, Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WOxkXn1PkQ [accessed September 2018].
Juvenal. (1998) The Sixteen Satires, Penguin Books, London.
Libet, B. (2004) Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA.
Meyer, E. (2014a) The Culture Map: Breaking the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, Public Affairs, New York.
Meyer, E. (2014b) ‘Navigating the cultural minefield’, Harvard Business Review, 92, 5, pp.119–23.
Meyer, E. (2015) ‘When culture doesn't translate: how to expand abroad without losing you company's mojo’, Harvard Business Review, 93, 10, pp.66–72.
Murphy, T. (2014) Japan and the Shackles of the past (What Everyone Needs to Know), Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Nakane, C. (1972) Japanese Society, University of California Press, Berkeley CA.
Nonaka, I. and Toyama, R. (2007) ‘Strategic management as distributed practical wisdom (phronesis)‘, Industrial and Corporate Change, 16, 3, pp.371–94. doi:10.1093/icc/dtm014
Panksepp, J. (2005) ‘Beyond a joke: From animal laughter to human joy?‘ Science, 308, 5718, pp.62–63.
Parkinson, C. (1965) Parkinson's Law or the Pursuit of Progress, Penguin, London.
Polanyi, M. (2009) The Tacit Dimension, University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL.
Provine, R. (2013) ‘Laughing, grooming, and pub science’, Trends in Cognitive Science, 17, 1, pp.9–10. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2012.11.001
Putnam, H. (1981) Reason, Truth and History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Ritzer, G. (2015) The McDonaldization of Society, Sage, Los Angeles.
Saxenian, A. (1996) Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA.
Saxenian, A. (2002) ‘Brain circulation: how high-skill immigration makes everyone better off’, Brookings Review, 20, 1, pp.28–31. doi:10.2307/20081018
Saxenian, A. (2006) The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA.
Schumpeter, J. (2010) Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Routledge, London.
Scott, S. (2013) ‘Laughter - the ordinary and the extraordinary’, Psychologist, 26, 4, pp.264–268.
Skinner, B. (1977) ‘Why I am not a cognitive psychologist’, Behaviorism, 5, 2, pp.1–10.
Taylor, F. (1998) The Principles of Scientific Management, Dover, Mineola NY.
Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C. (2008) Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness, Yale University Press, New Haven CT.
Vlahovic, T., Roberts, S., and Dunbar, R. (2012) ‘Effects of duration and laughter on subjective happiness within different modes of communication’, Journal of Computer-mediated Communication, 17, 4, pp.436–450.
von Foerster, H. (2003) Understanding Understanding: Essays on Cybernetics and Cognition, Springer Verlag, New York.
von Glasersfeld, E. (2002) Radical Constructivism: A Way of Knowing and Learning, RoutledgeFalmer, London.
von Glasersfeld, E. (2006) ‘You have to be two to start: rational thoughts about love’, Constructivist Foundations, 2, 1, pp.1–5.
von Glasersfeld, E. (2007) ‘Farewell to objectivity’ in Larochelle, M. (ed). Key Works in Radical Constructivism; Ernst Von Glasersfeld, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, pp.135–42.
von Krogh, G., Nonaka, I. and Rechsteiner, L. (2012) ‘Leadership in organizational knowledge creation: a review and framework’, Journal of Management Studies, 49, pp.240–77. doi:10.1111/joms.2012.49.issue-1
Watzlawick, P., Beavin Bavelas, J., Jackson, D. and O'Hanlon, B. (1967) Pragmatics of Human Communication: A Study of the Interactional Patterns, Pathologies, and Paradoxes, Norton, New York NY.
Whiting, R. (2012) Tokyo Underworld, Constable, London.
Woodford, M. (2013) Exposure: From President to Whistleblower at Olympus, Penguin, London.