top of page

A Case Study on Ikenobo > Chapter 3: Literature Review

This thesis is dedicated to...

People who wish to bring true peace to this world,

The Japanese people, who have created and possess such a great culture,

All living things.

We are all one.

Mari Katsui

Can Japanese Culture Contribute to Sustainability for Peace? A Case Study on Ikenobo

Chapter 3: Literature Review


In the traditional research model used for theory testing, the purpose of the literature review is to identify gaps in existing research about a topic and then come up with and refine the research question(s), the answers to which will reduce those gaps.

However, as explained in in Chapter 2, this project is not theory testing, but theory building. With theory-building, the research question comes before the literature review.

B.G. Glaser, who pioneered the theory-building approach known as “grounded theory,”warns that with theory building, reading the existing literature before conducting the actual research can be problematic, because the

researcher should avoid pre-conceptions and remain open-minded about possible answers to the research question.

Therefore, for this research, the “literature review” is not something done before the research; it is part of the research itself. It is the secondary data that, along with interviews and observation, becomes the information base from which answers to the research question are induced.

As explained in the previous chapter, I identified several knowledge areas to investigate in order to answer the research question.

These can be grouped into three broad areas:

  • The longevity of Japanese organizations and companies

  • Ikebana (flower arrangement) in Japanese culture, and Ikenobo

  • Japanese culture, religion, and history, and how these may be related to peace and sustainability

The results of this “literature review” are presented in detail in Chapters 4–7 (along with observations and the findings from the primary data collection).

Here, I will very briefly summarize what the literature shows. (Please see References for a list of all the literature studied for this research.)

The Longevity of Japanese Organizations

Japan has the largest number of long-established companies and organizations in the world, including Kongo-gumi, the world’s oldest company, and the flower arrangement school Ikenobo, the world’s second oldest organization. The questions that are of interest in terms of this research are:

(1) Why does Japan have so many long-established companies and organizations? and

(2) Is there a connection between the sustainability of Japanese companies and organizations and sustainable peace?

These literature that sheds light on these questions is described in Chapters 7 (Japanese Companies) and 8 (Case Study on Ikenobo).

Ikebana (flower arrangement) in Japanese Culture, and Ikenobo

As the flower arrangement school Ikenobo is main organization studied in this research, it is important to understand the essence, principles, and practices of Japanese flower arrangement and Ikenobo. These are presented in Chapter 8.

Japanese Culture, Religion, and History, and How These May Be Related to Peace and Sustainability

These broad topic areas are covered in Chapter 4 (Japanese Culture and Society) and 5 (Good Things about Japan). Many aspects of Japanese culture, religion, and history are described that appear to contribute to both organizational sustainability and peaceful co-existence with others who may be different from us.

These offer important hints about how peace can be achieved in other parts of the world besides Japan.

Overall, the literature review provides a rich collection of factual information and concepts related to sustainable peace.

Combining this with the results of the primary data collected in this research and with observation, I hope to show how Japan as a country, and the Japanese as a people, can contribute to the quest for sustainable world peace.

The outcome of the research—that is, the answer I have been able to find to the research question—is presented in Chapter 9 (Discussion and Recommendations).

to be continued...

1 view


bottom of page