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The Matsushita Group of Japan

The giant Matsushita Group of Japan was founded by Konosuke Matsushita.* It does not market its products under the Matsushita so the name is less well know outside of Japan than its much smaller rival Sony. Matsushita markets its products under the name National in Japan and Panasonic in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The founder Konosuke Matsushita is known and revered not only for building up his company but also for developing a management model for large companies. Konosuke Matsushita promoted a management scheme in which the separate divisions of a company functioned as near-independent operating units; i.e., profit centers. These divisions did have to rely upon the core management of the company for such things as finance but could make other technical and economic choices on their own. In the United States this style of management scheme is associated with Samuel duPont and Alfred Sloan in their operation of the General Motors Corporation. For his success in developing his management scheme Konosuke Matsushita is sometimes referred to as the God of Management.

The Matsushita companies concentrated upon the standard electrical products. They have been accused of letting their rivals develop new products and then copying them with minor changes. For this reason Matsushita is sometimes referred to as Maneshita (copycat) Electric.

Matsushita with its huge marketing organization is able to thus outsell its rivals. Matsushita promoted the VHS format for video cassette players in competition with the Beta format promoted by Sony. Although the Beta format was technically superior Matsushita and the VHS format won the VCR war.

Matsushita is a Kansai company and although it is an independent vertical keiretsu it has a close relationship with the Kansai horizontal keiretsu Sumitomo.

*By the rules of Japanese syllabification the word Matsushita should be broken down as ma-tsu-shi-ta, without emphasis on any one of the syllables.

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