Strategy at Yuhisai Koudoukan: Reading the Tea Leaves

14 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2018

See all articles by Yael Grushka-Cockayne

Yael Grushka-Cockayne

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business; Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Thanh-Trang Hoang-Le

Kyoto University

Will Baber

Kyoto University

Gerry Yemen

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

This field-based case uses a Japanese teahouse and cultural space to discuss broader themes in strategy formation.The material would work well to conduct a strategic capability analysis. Sotatsu Ota, director of Yuhisai Koudoukan (Koudoukan), bought the property to save it from being destroyed in 2008. In the decade since, sales have grown, but the business has yet to turn a profit. Yet there is a traditional piece to teahouses that Ota-san was sensitive about: they were not meant to be prosperous. Koudoukan was a place that served as a cultural embassy, marrying the traditional tea ceremony with modern cultural outreach internationally. Customers were often interesting people from all over the world as well as locals. Yet the space for traditional culture in Japan seemed to be shrinking, even in the face of an aggressive governmental campaign to encourage integration of the old and new. Was there a place for Koudoukan to teach culture, tradition, and creativity to a modernized Japan and a globalized world? Could the primary mission of promoting traditional tea ceremonies become financially successful without violating the tradition wrapped around the original intent of teahouses? Ota-san needed to figure out how best to run Koudoukan in the years ahead.

Excerpt

UVA-S-0303

Jul. 9, 2018

Strategy at Yuhisai Koudoukan: Reading the Tea Leaves

Sotatsu Ota (in kanji: 太田達), director of Yuhisai Koudoukan (Koudoukan), sat on a white-stone bench; before him, a small waterfall snaked its way down the round rocks. He stayed for several minutes, trying to leave his thoughts behind before the tea ceremony that awaited him. Yet he couldn't shake his worries about the future of Koudoukan, a Japanese culture space and teahouse in Kyoto. Ota-san bought the property to save it from being destroyed in 2008. In the decade since, sales had grown, but the business had yet to turn a profit—a situation not exactly unheard of in a global economy where many companies ran on the basis of growth now, profits later. Yet there was a traditional piece to teahouses that Ota-san was sensitive about: they were not meant to be prosperous.

Koudoukan was a place that served as a cultural ambassador, marrying the traditional tea ceremony with modern cultural outreach internationally. Customers were often interesting people from all over the world as well as locals. Yet the space for traditional culture in Japan seemed to be shrinking, even in the face of an aggressive governmental campaign to encourage integration of the old and new. Was there a place for a cultural school like Koudoukan in a modernized Japan? Could the primary mission of promoting traditional tea ceremonies become financially successful without violating the tradition wrapped around the original intent of teahouses? Ota-san needed to figure out how best to run Koudoukan in the decade ahead.

Introduction of Chadou

. . .

Keywords: Japan, teahouse, tea ceremony, tangible assets, intangible assets, external positioning, value chain, competitive environment, processes, people, systems, alignment

Suggested Citation

Grushka-Cockayne, Yael and Hoang-Le, Thanh-Trang and Baber, Will and Yemen, Gerry, Strategy at Yuhisai Koudoukan: Reading the Tea Leaves. Darden Case No. UVA-S-0303. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3213753

Yael Grushka-Cockayne (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=263650

Thanh-Trang Hoang-Le

Kyoto University

Yoshida-Honmachi
Sakyo-ku
Kyoto, 606-8501
Japan

Will Baber

Kyoto University

Yoshida-Honmachi
Sakyo-ku
Kyoto, 606-8501
Japan

Gerry Yemen

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
2
Abstract Views
185
PlumX Metrics