Konosuke Matsushita

Statue of Konosuke Matsushita

Konosuke Matsushita (松下 幸之助 Matsushita Kōnosuke, November 27, 1894 – April 27, 1989) was a Japanese industrialist, the founder of Panasonic, a company based in the suburb of Kadoma (on the Keihan line), Osaka in Japan. For many Japanese, he is known as "the god of management." A biography of Matsushita's life called Matsushita Leadership was written by American business management specialist John Kotter in 1998.


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 at a very young age.

In 1910, at the age of 16, Matsushita was taken on as a wiring assistant at the Osaka Electric Light Company. In 1915, he would marry Mumeno Iue.

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 with his first employees being himself, Mumeno, and Mumeno's brother, Toshio Iue. His company almost went bankrupt until a large order came in for electric fan parts. He used the money to expand production and drop prices for his lamp sockets, a strategy that paid off.

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.

Matsushita and the post-war period

Konosuke Matsushita on the cover of Time Magazine, 1962

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.

In 1947, Konosuke lent his brother-in-law Toshio an unutilized manufacturing plant to manufacture bicycle lamps, which eventually became Sanyo Electric.

From 1950 to 1973, Matsushita's company became one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electrical goods, sold under well-known trademarks including Panasonic and Technics. Matsushita retired in 1973. Since 1954, Matsushita also gained a significant shareholding in manufacturer JVC by forming an alliance[1]. It still retains a 50% share today.

In retirement, Matsushita focused 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 US$3 billion, and left a company with US$42 billion in revenue business.

Further reading

  • Matsushita Leadership by John Paul Kotter, Simon and Schuster (1998)


External links


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