“The raised nail gets hammered down” (or “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down” or “the protruding nail gets hammered down”) is a Japanese proverb that dates at least to the 1950s-1960s. The saying means that if one is like the others no harm will occur, but if you stick out, you’ll get attacked. The Japanese management proverb has sometimes been used in American management, although Americans often prefer individualism.
Wikipedia: Japanese proverb
. Deru kui wa utareru.
. Literally: The stake that sticks up gets hammered down.
. Meaning: If you stand out, you will be subject to criticism.
Wikiquote: Japanese proverbs
出る杭は打たれる。 Deru kui wa utareru.
. Literally: The stake that sticks out gets hammered down.
出る釘は打たれる。 Deru kugi wa utareru
. Literally: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
1. Roku Okada, Japanese Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, Japan Travel Bureau, Tokyo 1955, page 28
2. Comment: While kui (stake) is sometimes used in place of kugi (nail) some purists point to the incongruity of using “kui” since, in traditional Japanese post and beam house construction, it is physically impossible to hammer a stake flush with the wood, and a stake in the ground would have no structural function.
Japanese Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases (Fifth Edition)
By Rokuo Okada
Tōkyō: Japan Travel Bureau
Deru kugi wa utareru. A nail (kugi) that sticks out is hammered.
What is implied by this proverb is that there is unwisdom in being too forward, and wisdom in lying low. Impudence courts disaster.
Never Take Yes for an Answer:
An inside look at Japanese business
By Masaaki Imai
Tokyo: Simul Press; [Portland, Or.]: distributed by ISBS, Inc.
The Japanese proverb “The protruding nail gets hammered down” literally applies to most employees in a Japanese company.
Tutorial, VLSI Support Technologies:
Computer-aided design, testing, and packaging
By Rex Rice
New York, NY: IEEE Computer Society Press; Los Alamitos, CA: Available from IEEE Computer Society; Piscataway, NJ: Available from IEEE Service Center
An old Japanese saying goes: “A raised nail gets hammered down.”
New York (NY) Times
ART DRIVE BLENDS 2 CULTURES
By LESLIE WAYNE
Published: May 09, 1987
‘‘There’s an old Japanese proverb,’’ said Barbara B. Ford, associate curator of the Met’s Asian art: ‘‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. No one company wanted to be singled out as conspicuous.’‘
New York (NY) Times
The Law; At the Bar
By David Margolick
Published: March 18, 1988
Unlike many Americans with ties to other cultures, Mr. Shapiro does not flaunt his foreignness. There are no office bonsai plants. But he seems to live by the Japanese proverb ‘‘Deru kugi wa utareru’’ - ‘‘A protruding nail gets hit.’’ He remains soft-spoken, modest and inclined to compromise, leading his American-born wife, Jacqueline, to complain at times that he is ‘‘too Japanese.’‘
The American Samurai:
Blending American and Japanese managerial practices
By Jon P. Alston
New York, NY: De Gruyter
The Japanese saying “the raised nail gets hammered” recognizes the fact that workers standing out from the crowd make the most enemies and become targets for envy.
30 January 1993, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Free Press, “‘Odd’ pupils often killed” by Colin Nickerson, pg. A13, col. 1:
Called “ijime,” or bullying, the phenomenon seems to reflect the intolerances of a conformist society where the unofficial motto is: “Deru kugi wa utareru” or “The protruding nail gets hammered down.”
Google Groups: comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.misc
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy, comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.misc, comp.unix.admin
Subject: Re: Open Source Admin Tool Project
>However, I have a quote, too:
> “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Of course the counter quote:
“The raised nail gets the hammer.”
25 August 2002, Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, “Voters turn away confrontation for consensus,” pg. A1:
This is the new motto of Georgia politics: The raised nail gets hammered.
How To Not Get Audited By The IRS
William P. Barrett, 04.08.10, 06:00 PM EDT
There are some not-so-smart ways to attract an audit, or other unwanted scrutiny, from the tax enforcers.
Many of the precautions revolve around the wisdom of that old Japanese proverb, “The raised nail gets hammered down.”
Investing|2/24/2012 @ 10:28AM
What Led The Once Dominant Commercial Real Estate Firm Grubb & Ellis Into Bankruptcy?
There’s an old saying in real estate development that the “raised nail gets hammered” and perhaps that saying also applies to commercial real estate service firms.