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Konosuke Matsushita

Konosuke Matsushita (松下 幸之助, 1894-1989) was a Japanese industrialist, the founder of Matsushita Electric, a company based in the suburb of Kadoma (on the Keihan line), Osaka in Japan.

Table of contents
1 Matsushita's Early Life
2 Management Practices
3 Matsushita and the Post-war period

Matsushita's Early Life

Konosuke Matsushita was born in 1894 in the farming village of Wasa in Wakayama Prefecture, the son of a landlord. Poor investment decisions by his father in rice speculation ruined the family's finances, and Matsushita was sent to Osaka to work.

In 1910, at the age of 16, Matsushita was taken on as a wiring assistant at the Osaka Electric Light Company.

Matsushita wanted to market a new light socket he had invented, and so in 1918, at the age of 23, he founded Matsushita Electric Appliance Factory. He had three employees, the equivalent of $50, and a prototype for a new type of electrical socket. The success of the company however was built on the manufacture and distribution of a bullet-shaped lamp. He used demand for the lamp to build a sales network throughout Japan. With countrywide distribution established, Matsushita used the trademark ‘National’ on Matsushita products, and dropped prices to make his lamp a mass-market product. Matsushita also used national newspaper advertising, an unusual form of marketing in Japan in the 1920s.

Management Practices

In 1929, Matsushita implemented ground-breaking and innovative management practices, under the banner of ‘harmony between corporate profit and social justice’. In 1933 Matsushita announced his ‘five guiding principles’: service to the public, fairness and honesty, teamwork for the common cause, untiring effort for improvement, courtesy and humility, accord with natural laws, and gratitude for blessings.

Matsushita and the Post-war period

In post-war Japan, the company came under severe restrictions imposed on large Japanese companies by the Allies. Matsushita was in danger of removal as president, but was saved by a favourable petition signed by 15,000 employees.

From 1950 to 1973, Matsushita presided over a massive expansion of the company, with a focus on its ‘three treasures’— washing machines, refrigerators, and televisions. Matsushita's company became one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electrical goods, sold under well-known trademarks including Panasonic, Technics, and JVC. Matsushita retired in 1973.

In retirement, Matsushita focussed on developing and explaining his social and commercial philosophies, and wrote 44 published books. One of his books, entitled “Developing a road to peace and happiness through prosperity”, sold over four million copies.

Chronic lung problems lead to his death of pneumonia on 27 April 1989, at the age of 94. He died with personal assets worth $3 billion, and left a company with $42 billion in revenue business.