How has “Management of Ba” been developed? Itami’s research from Management control systems to Management of Ba

Kenji Inoue, Kenichi Suzuki


This research aims to reveal the background of the “management of ba” (a Japanese term meaning “field”), which is proposed by Hiroyuki Itami, because his research has been shifted from management control systems to management of ba. We review Itami’s articles from the 1970s to the present to clarify why Itami created the management of ba. Itami revised his assumption of the organization to describe real-life management practices based on his research results. In addition, it was important to investigate how Itami’s assumption of human nature had shifted to include individuals’ autonomy and self-organization, key aspects of the management of ba. A management approach that enhances psychological energy is needed in order to increase individuals’ autonomy and self-organization. That approach is indeed refers to the management of ba. By reviewing Itami’s research, we identified that Itami’s research question was, “how can the liberty of an individual be ensured within an organization?” Itami noted that management control systems need to balance liberty and discipline; thus, we focused on the problem of the liberty of individuals in organizations from the point of view of management accounting research.

Keywords: Management of ba; Management controls systems; Individual and organization; Interaction