Business: Honda Discord

A spat over union hats

In Japan, where loyalty to the corpo ration is almost a state religion, every factory employee from the manager on down puts on a uniform bearing his firm's logo before checking in each day. The aim is to make workers feel like members of a team, on the theory that this boosts productivity. Unlike many Japanese ideas, however, the notion of mandatory company duds may not be all that exportable.

The concept worked fine for a while at the 13-month-old Honda motorcycle plant in Marysville, Ohio, where all 200 employees...

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