The giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) held its 20th birthday bash in Hsinchu at the weekend. There was a lot to celebrate: from its government-backed start-up with 200 employees, the chipmaker has become a world-class company. Its more than 20,000 employees have pumped out US$7.5 billion worth of silicon wafers in the first three quarters of this year alone. TSMC's celebration took the form of a sports jamboree - an annual event at most larger Taiwanese firms and public institutions. Workers and managers assemble on a school field or in a stadium for a long, hot day of militaristic marching, speeches and just plain silliness. The festivities generally begin with some desultory attempts to wave flags in formation or form the shape of the company logo. Since no one has rehearsed, things fall apart quickly - but not before someone, unaccustomed to the glaring sun, keels over with sunstroke. Next come speeches and chanted slogans. One favourite is: 'Better to lose people than fail to hold the line.' The idea, I suppose, is that as long as the company is growing, it doesn't matter how many employees are sacrificed. At TSMC's jamboree, chairman Morris Chang, 75, slowly jogged 400 metres at the head of a retinue of top managers. Rather like Mao Zedong swimming the Yangtze River, he was showing employees and shareholders that he is in excellent health - and will be able to steer the helm for many years to come. Thankfully, Mr Chang refrained from any silly costumes - a staple of jamboree days. The chairman of one of Taiwan's hottest chip design companies recently appeared on national television wearing an elaborate headdress made from green and pink vegetable-shaped balloons. There also seems to be a special predilection among Taiwan's corporate titans for cross-dressing at these events. There was no cross-dressing at the TSMC event. But a team of employee cheerleaders did wave pom poms and dance exuberantly - if not entirely rhythmically - for TSMC's dajiazhang or 'big daddy', as Mr Chang is affectionately known. The sports jamboree reveals much about the Taiwanese corporation's obsession with elaborate, military-like hierarchy organised around a Confucian cult of personality for a paternalistic leader. But the jamboree also gives the lie to this same vision - with its general air of disorganised laxity and healthy disdain for actually participating in the pseudo-events. There were uninhibited screams of joy when Mr Chang promised even bigger bonuses this year out of the company's soaring revenues. TSMC may like to think of itself as a big, happy family, but the family members are very much in it for themselves.