Mechanism of humanistic leadership for success: lessons from Konosuke Matsushita

Kaori Ono*, Jusuke J.J. Ikegami

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study contributes to the construction of a theory on humanistic leadership in the context of Japanese culture. Although the Japanese management system has been described as human-oriented, there has been limited research on this subject, especially regarding top leaders. This case study focuses on Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Matsushita Electric (now Panasonic), who devoted his life as a businessperson to investigating human nature. The authors examined how the humanistic approach influenced his beliefs and behaviors, as well as his company's performance. The authors then show how current employees at Panasonic have implemented and interpreted his philosophy. Design/methodology/approach: This research is a qualitative case study. Data were gathered from transcriptions of archived recordings, interviews and Internet documents. They were then coded for analyses. Findings: The findings show how humanistic leadership can succeed via seven behaviors: building a company philosophy aimed at the prosperity of society and the well-being of people, being aware of one's own weaknesses, listening to others, improving oneself, developing people, respecting people and making a profit for society. Originality/value: The study identifies the behavioral aspects of humanistic leadership for building a leadership theory and provides insight into how Matsushita's leadership characteristics and behaviors are connected to Japanese cultural values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-644
Number of pages18
JournalCross Cultural and Strategic Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov 20


  • Company philosophy
  • Cultural values
  • Humanistic leadership
  • Japanese business executives
  • Japanese management
  • Konosuke Matsushita

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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