Western Civilization, from the rise of the Roman Catholic church onward, has been defined by set of ascending hierarchies.
We are taught that all must start at the top, then work their way up. Rung by rung, we ascend to our highest level of competence, or incompetence, depending on the circumstances.
We here in America pride ourselves on having worked our way to the top. We pat ourselves on the back for living in a country where social mobility is fact, rather than fiction. We start to spin personal mythologies of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.
The problem is that once we've started making $100,000 a year or more, there's a natural tendency in human nature for us to forget that we too, once were at the bottom of the totem pole.
The Japanese do it a tad differently. In a corporate environment, they place their highest esteem and regard upon those at the bottom of the pyramid. However, Japanese society is quite conformist. Individuality is tolerated within reason, but the idea of the collective mindset is valued far above any sort of individual liberty.
There's a fine line between fear and trust in people. Many small businesses start based on ideas of trust. The employees know and trust each other. Those in charge of setting up this great-leap-forward---this grassroots endeavor---see the problems caused by corporate heirarchies. They seek to avoid them whenever possible. They don't treat their employees as though they are prisoners. They do not run their management like the Gestapo.
Then a larger company extends a check forward. They've discovered that the good idea advanced by this small company could help them, the large corporation, make even more money.
So the eternal quandry presents itself, thusly: Sell out and perpetuate unequality? Sell out and live a life of wealth? Spread fear, rather than trust? Sell out and ensure that an unfair system continues forward?
Or: Stay poor, pure, and happy?