The Transformation of Japanese Employment Relations: Reform without Labor

Labor unions in Japan
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Since the mid s, policies to relieve the labour market have been developed in several Western countries.

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In the FRG, in particular, early retirement schemes have been used extensively but this strategy has also been followed in the UK and DK. However, negative effects of this policy choice are high costs and the loss of the productive potential of older workers. In the context of the 'active turn' in various national labour market policies during the s, these problems have led to a reconsideration of the early retirement strategy.

Furthermore, not only has the OECD recommended reductions of early retirement schemes but since the launching of the European Employment Strategy in , the issue of 'active ageing' has become an important issue. This includes education as well as the 'social responsibility' of employers with regard to increasing the labour market attraction to older workers.

In this context, the role of the social partners is essential to the improvement of skills and the adaptability of enterprises. Yet, due to various regimes of welfare states and IR, the implementation of these policy changes varies among the countries under investigation. While DK and the UK restricted access to early retirement, the German policy changes in this field have been modest. It is within the variety of such capitalist configurations of welfare and IR that the questions of path dependency and the interrelationship between supranational and national policy levels occur.

A widespread European policy discourse links competitiveness, innovation and the mobilisation of employees' practical knowledge. If employees are trusted they will contribute to the innovation process. Such claims are the basis for trade union strategies of workplace partnership as in Ireland and elements of the European Commission's 'Learning Society' policy. They underlie employment sociologists' interest in 'implicit' or 'tacit' knowledge Polanyi. The paper begins by exploring the intellectual roots of this optimistic thesis.

It then uses a series of European Commission funded projects on workplace organisation to show that the current situation is in fact marked by processes which undermine the importance of independent workplace knowledge. Management now explicitly attempts to gather and harness employees' subjectivity in terms of both their personality and their knowledge. Organisational change and the creation of a generalised sense of insecurity undermine the workplace collectivity, so employee commitment becomes a requirement for a job rather than the consequence of a job.

Innovations in information systems are subcontracted out, away from intervention by workers or their representatives. Perhaps most important of all, the ideology and practices of 'shareholder value' denigrate and disrupt all knowledge that cannot be codified and managed as a financial asset.

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In this situation sociologists of work who focus on workers' tacit knowledge may be like 19th century folklorists, cataloguing activities that are increasingly under threat. The paper ends by considering countervailing trends and the implications for European industrial relations policy. This paper is based on information collected by interviews during and , using a mainly structured questionnaire, with the owners or top mangers in 95 manufacturing, extractive and construction businesses in Kazakhstan, and unstructured follow-up interviews in 11 of these companies.

The findings are used to assess the extent to which a literature-based model of post-communist Russian management exists in Kazakhstan. Similarities are noted: the prevalence of an 'insider configuration' firms run in the interests of managers and workers , and the importance of social capital 'connections'. In contrast, the evidence suggests that 'bureaucratic extortion' is easier to avoid, Russian-style mafia are less in evidence, and a 'nomenklatura effect' is weaker in Kazakhstan.

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It is argued that these differences create greater space in Kazakhstan: for 'outsiders' to develop businesses whose success depends essentially on satisfying the market, and for young managers to rise to the top swiftly on the basis of their ability to align the performances of their enterprises with market demands. The convergence and divergence of the industrial relation systems is an old debate, now restarted by pressure of the transformations of the productive system and the globalisation processes.

In accordance with this debate we tried to interpret the tendencies of change of the Portuguese labour relation system. First, we will analyse the evolution of the social actors organization and of the collective bargaining. Secondly, we will present and discuss the results of an empiric research developed in companies of process industries about the negotiation of the professional classification. Crouch , in arguing that the somewhat arbitrary allocations of historical legacies have shaped the occupancy of political space by organised interests, has identified different models of industrial relations in industrialised market economies.

Traditionally, Ireland tended to fit the pluralist model, where interaction between capital and labour takes place principally in the context of a contractual setting that governs rules and procedures. A bargaining relationship exists but the parties have an adversarial value system, interest organisation is fragmented and there is little or no central co-ordination. However, the period since has seen a significant shift in strategy by Irish industrial relations actors, away from the traditional, adversarial, British-style approach to a more consensual, 'European' model, resulting in the conclusion of a series of national social pacts.

Arguments have been advanced by trade union leaders for an orientation towards moderation and social partnership, citing the increased influence gained by trade unions on national affairs, and the advantages of entering 'productivity coalitions' with management to improve competitive performance. This paper seeks to explore the impact and diffusion of this 'Europeanised Irish model' on industrial relations at the workplace; which as a result of, inter alia, bargaining decentralisation and changing economic structures is increasingly becoming the most important arena for employment relations.

Qualitative case study data from two worksites will be presented to examine the effects of these changes on trade union workplace organisation, on relations between unions and employers, and on the lived work experiences of ordinary union members. The data will explore the perceptions of the partnership era at grassroots level; how is the orientation towards partnership and consensus viewed by ordinary union members, and to what extent if any do they feel it has impacted on the union-member relationship and on their own working lives? Reference: Crouch, C. Industrial Relations and European State Traditions.

Oxford: Clarendon Press. The two ex-Yugoslav states were derived from specific type of 'communism'. Compared to the contemporary 'soviet type' societies, in former Yugoslavia an atypical working class structuration existed. On the background of the comparatively accentuated market nature of Yugoslav 'communism', interest cleavages within and between companies were stronger, but between the state and society less intensive than in other 'communist' societies. In spite of the strong horizontal fragmentation, at the end of the 80's Yugoslavia was faced with powerful strike wave.

In this environment direct application of the liberal capitalism strategy in the form of 'shock therapy' simply was not possible. This type of policy would imply political death for its creators. Because of that, at the end of the 80's the political elites in Serbia and Slovenia had two political solutions: gradual market reforms, which had to respect workers interests, or radical rejection of these reforms. First option implied inclusion of the workers' collective interest in the 'transition', second one its radical pacification. At mid 80's in the central committee of the Slovenian communist party won the faction, who accepted gradual market reforms; this option offered a 'voice' for labour.

Almost at the same time in the central committee of the Serbian communist party a political faction, which rejected market reforms, came into the power. This faction used nationalism as an instrument for aggressive labour pacification and offered 'exit' option to the workers literally exit from Serbia or a movement towards the informal economy.

The root of the later differences between the two trajectories, the key point of the historical divorce between the two republics and also the key point of the disintegration of the former Yugoslav federation was in these two qualitatively different reactions of the two political elites to the strong strike movement from the late 80's.

Political victories of the two essentially different political factions had decisive strategic implications in Serbia and Slovenia. These two cases reveal that the type of the 'transition', its abortive or social-democratic variant, were subject of the strategic choices. The decisive intervening variable of the whole process was the political power. These different strategic choices framed the trade unions. In Serbian as well as in Slovenian context the two major 'old reformed' trade unions strongly accentuated the economism as an essential part of theirs strategies.

Both strongly focused on everyday, concrete employees' interests. Within the Serbian context in the 90's this strategy was the part of the 'exit' option and of the corresponding deconstruction of the workers collective identity. In Slovenian context the same strategy was a part of the 'voice' option formation, enabling survival of the workers collective identity. Author s : Nico A. New paradigms such as "competitive corporatism" M.

Rhodes or "supply-side corporatism" F.

The Transformation of Japanese Employment Relations : Reform without Labor

Traxler have been suggested to summarize dominant changes in corporatist policy patterns during an era of internationalisation and national adaptation. Compared to the number of comparative analyses which have tried to map and conceptualise major changes and reorganisations of corporatist networks and interactions between states and industrial organization much less research efforts can be observed in trying to assess the effects of "new concertation" platforms on economic and social policies in OECD countries.

Though there are a number of studies in which an impact of "social pacts" or "employment pacts" on the reform elasticity in employment and social policy has been stated or even confirmed, empirical evidence about the impact of "new concertation" still is rather thin.

One major problem of the mainstream in the social pacts literature seems to be that it is often based on case studies with a certain implicit verification tendency: though there are many theoretically plausible factors which may explain an outcome that is causally connected to concertation talks, it is concertation that is - without further methodological justification - being made responsible for a certain policy outcome, e.

As the German but not only the German case suggests, "effective concertation" is a demanding interaction process between different arenas of compromise finding. So far, research on social pacts has often focused on the organisational prerequisites of effective concertation and on external adjustment pressure.

The main thesis of this contribution is that analyses of social pacts have often underestimated the relevance of factors connected to the core government process: party competition, policy legacy and the dominant problem perceptions of key societal actors, within and outside democratic governments. As I will try to show in a comparative case study on Germany's ineffective social pacts between and these three variables are helpful factors for a more "embedded" thick description and analysis of "new concertation" arenas. The paper uses the results from the special surveys undertaken in the project Households, Work and Flexibility HWF of the 5.

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It attempts to form groups of flexibility that provisionally distinguish between desirable and undesirable forms of flexibility. We first grouped respondents into eight categories, combining them later into three major groups; the major criterion was employment status of the respondent, combined with some other 'objective' characteristics of flexibility. These provisional three groups are: flexibility group A flexible workers for who the flexibility seems to be a preferred pattern of work , flexibility group B shift and irregular work patterns, temporary jobs and others , and standard employment group C non flexible full time employment, regular working schedule, one activity.

This produces in the case of Slovenia statistically significant differences with respect to work characteristics: e. This group is more likely to have higher incomes and more household goods, including Internet and PCs. They also have more satisfaction with earnings but less with working hours.

The Transformation of Japanese Employment Relations : Reform without Labour

On the other hand, flexibility group B is more often disadvantaged. The empirical issue will be examined comparing the eight countries in the HWF project with an interesting range of development levels and past experiences. Keywords: work flexibility, non-standard employment, candidate countries,. This paper presents four types of trade union response to workplace restructuring. Each type combines trade union orientations and bargaining tactics.

Four union branches are described who negotiated the recent introduction of teamworking in the UK iron and steel industry employing each type of strategy. Data relating to the negotiations and outcomes were captured using a variety of methods including interviews with management and trade union negotiators involved in each of the four negotiations, extensive analysis of documentation and departmental performance data for the periods before and after the introduction of teamworking including output, labour productivity, health and safety measures and overtime levels , together with employee attitude responses through two large-scale surveys undertaken before and after the change to teamworking.

The findings highlight wide variation in the outcomes of teamworking for management and workers according to union strategy. However, no single strategy optimises all types of outcomes suggesting the choice of union strategies involves important trade-offs in outcomes. Overall, the findings and conclusions to the paper contribute to the debate over the relative merits for trade unions of pursuing a moderate and cooperative relationship with management, or alternatively maintaining a more militant and conflictual approach.

The findings underline the limits of this bi-polar view of union strategy and action, and thereby point the way towards a more sophisticated understanding of effective trade union orientation and behaviour. Author s : R. The paper argues that any discussion of 'de-regulation' should be sensitive to the manner in which regulation was constructed and developed in the first place.

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The Transformation of Japanese Employment Relations. Reform without Labor aspects of employment relations; contracts, employee mobility and worker. Editorial Reviews. Review. 'This book will be of great interest to academics working in the field The Transformation of Japanese Employment Relations: Reform without Labor - Kindle edition by Dr Jun Imai. Download it once and read it on.

Any change can only be understood by a mapping of the complex interrelation of spaces, spheres and actors of regulation. The paper draws from a range of positions that argue that power relations in a variety of regulatory spaces and amongst actors have influenced the nature of regulation, and the manner in which de-regulation takes place. De-regulation is not a form of 'withdrawal' and 'opening'. The act of regulatory change requires shifts and re-alignments across a wide range of fronts. This is because regulation involves alliances and linkages across a range of spaces and actors, contingent upon the peculiarities and limits of different states and their respective civil societies.

This is what makes de-regulation political and contested. In this respect, the paper draws from debates on micro-political processes but with the aim of showing how systems of regulation are tied together on the basis of political alliances around the pursuit of economic and social outcomes. The paper therefore starts by attempting to conceptualise regulation in such a manner, and demonstrating how relations and links are key to its operation and change.

This is followed by a discussion of the functions of regulation, where we argue that any discussion of the micro-politics of regulation must be more than simply tracing relations between actors without reference to their purposes and functions, as favoured by Foucauldian approaches. This leads to a discussion of the relationships between levels of regulation in terms of the state, joint regulation and the organisational level.

However, regulation cannot be viewed solely in terms of a strict hierarchy of levels, as there is a multiplicity of regulatory spaces and actors whose relationships define the pattern and efficacy of regulation. As a consequence we argue that questions of linkages, coupling and congruence between these actors and spaces must be at the heart of our understanding of regulatory processes, and ultimately their change.

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Trade unions and the informal sector: towards a comprehensive strategy. The UK television industry has undergone a process of rapid restructuring. Legislation to promote competition among programme makers has transformed the industry from a bureaucratic duopoly to a highly competitive market place. Associate Professor Toshiyuki Matsuura of Keio University and I combined the micro data from the Basic Survey of Japanese Business Structure and Activities Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry with our own survey data, and compiled corporate panel data for 1, businesses over the last few decades, and verified quantitatively whether businesses that introduced WLB policies showed higher corporate earnings.

By comparing earnings before and after the introduction of WLB policies, we were able to correctly grasp what positive impacts businesses were able to bring to earnings by introducing WLB policies. In addition, by focusing on Total Factor Productivity TFP , an hourly productivity index which also takes into account the difference in labor hours to look at corporate earnings, the impact it has on mid- to long-term corporate growth capacities can be verified. The analysis first showed that although there were cases of WLB policy introductions resulting in higher corporate productivity, for most of these instances the actual rise in productivity took a few years.

For example, Chart 1 shows the trend in corporate productivity for businesses which introduced WLB programs such as establishing promotion organizations. There does not seem to be much difference in productivity growth with other businesses, but a sharp increase can be seen after a few years. In addition, a more detailed statistical analysis showed that while some cases see the effect coming in within one or two years, there have been many cases where the rise in productivity was seen after a mid- to long-term span of more than five or six years.

This implies that while businesses need to be prepared to take on a rise in various short-term costs, productivity increase can eventually be expected with the introduction of WLB policies. What types of WLB policies tend to result in a rise in corporate productivity? Effective WLB policies include various programs such as establishing a promotion structure, organizational programs to reduce long working hours, and a career transfer system from non-regular to regular employment status. In addition, the following corporate features saw a rise in productivity through introduction of WLB policies: mid- to large-sized businesses with more than employees, manufacturing companies, businesses that have maintained their staff level and have kept the workforce during the recession period, and businesses with equal opportunity policies.

To begin with, the channels through which WLB policies raise corporate productivity are pointed out to be improvements in hiring performance, improved retention rates of talented workers, and improvements in morale of employees. Thus, the effects of WLB policies are more visible at businesses that value their workers.

In other words, at businesses where the model of corporate growth through human resources utilization can be applied, policies aimed at achieving work-life balance for its employees are not considered as costs but rather as investments. Therefore, businesses should proactively utilize WLB policies as part of their management strategy. Many businesses are currently contemplating, or have implemented, promotion of women's active participation.

There are those businesses that aim to utilize as many talented workers as possible to survive fierce competition, and there are those that act out of social responsibility in response to the government or society. Then there are also those that promote women's active participation from a mid- to long-term perspective by preparing themselves for the coming shortage in labor expected with the super aging society.

What effect does utilizing women have on Japanese businesses? Looking at empirical studies using panel data of Japanese businesses, the more the businesses are involved in promoting women's active participation, the higher the corporate performance. For example, Chart 2 shows trends in the profit margins of publicly listed companies with a high percentage of regular female workers against those with a low percentage, and for all the years profit margins are higher for those companies that are advanced in utilizing female workers. This point is unchanged even when other factors such as industry sectors, business size, and sales size are statistically controlled, or when a reverse causality, such as if the company had room for promoting women's active participation because of its high profit margin to begin with, is statistically removed as much as possible.

What gives rise to such a relationship between active participation of women and corporate performance? In economics, there has long been a theory called the Taste-based Discrimination Hypothesis. Under this theory, if there has been discriminatory behavior and customs against women throughout the entire labor market, or if wages for women have been kept lower than their actual productivity, businesses that become forerunners in implementing programs to promote women's active participation are able to enjoy productivity higher than the wages, and therefore a rent-like excess profit is brought about to improve their corporate earnings.

In other words, while paradoxical, if wages to productivity are at a discount for women compared to men, than the more the female workforce is utilized, the more businesses can save on labor costs, and thus improve corporate performance. Unfortunately, the Japanese labor market looks to be just like this. As stated previously, there is a positive correlation between the percentage of fulltime female workers and profit margins. There is also a wage gap between men and women for all indices, and the Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum always places Japan towards the bottom.

This situation needs to improve, but it may be useful for businesses to be mindful of the direct impact promoting women's active participation has on saving labor costs. For example, if the economic rationality of promotion of women's active participation can be lobbied to Japanese businesses, and if management can renew its perception that "if businesses change hiring policies for women and aggressively utilize them as fulltime workers, it would be effective in reducing labor costs and raise profit margins," then this new perception could also serve as the driving force for active participation of women in the workforce.

Naturally, as utilization of female workers progresses in the overall labor market, wages for women will increase and the rent of labor costs will eventually disappear. In order to shorten this transition process, the labor-cost-saving aspect of the economic rationality of active participation of women should be emphasized as a policy choice.

In addition, promotion of women's active participation is not only effective in reducing labor costs, but also in raising productivity itself. The difference in productivity of male workers and female workers arises from various factors, such as characteristics of the assignment, attitude towards work, and the surrounding environment. For example, in manual labor which requires physical manpower, productivity of male workers will tend to be higher, but in areas like product design and development where women are the prime customers, productivity may be higher for female workers.

Looking at Japanese businesses, there have been reports of the potential for a positive impact of the utilization of women on management in areas such as product innovation developing products which have utilized women's perspective , process innovation sales strategies which have utilized women's perspective , and improving the motivations of workers.

Role of Trade Unions in Japan, United States and Sweden: Comparative Analysis

In other words, promotion of women's active participation not only saves labor costs as mentioned, but through utilization of the talents and skill sets of women, corporate performance can improve through enhanced productivity. Moreover, if promotion of women's active participation can improve productivity itself, then in addition to just raising the percentage of women in the workforce, an environment where women can fully demonstrate their abilities and skill sets can also be laid out, and further improvement in corporate performance can be expected as a result of the synergy effect.

In fact, according to my analysis using panel data of public-listed companies, businesses with many mid-career hires or proper work-life balance policies child care and family care leave of absence systems which exceed the legally set standard, systems for shorter working hours, systems where an employee's work place is limited, programs to correct extended working hours, etc.

Businesses utilizing a number of mid-career employees or working to achieve work-life balance are open to recognizing diverse working styles and values, and therefore it can be interpreted that women are more able to demonstrate their abilities in such businesses, and hence their productivity is significantly enhanced. With the amendment to the Industrial Safety and Health Act, which enforced mandatory stress checks for employees, there has been a rise in social interest in mental health issues.

The importance of "health management," which businesses implement as a management strategy to maintain and improve the health of their employees, has also been pointed out. On the back of these developments, Professor Sachiko Kuroda of Waseda University and I conducted a joint study to quantitatively verify the relationship between mental health and corporate earnings. Chart 3 shows the trend in profit margins from to using panel data which tracked roughly businesses. Chart 3 separates those that saw a rise in the percentage of fulltime regular workers on extended leave of more than one month consecutively due to mental health breakdowns percentage of workers on mental health leave for the period between and , and those that did not.

This allows comparisons between the trends in profit margins. Chart 3 first shows that in , there was no major change in profit margins between those businesses with a rise in the percentage of mental health leave workers and those with no change. But during the economic downturn period, between and , caused by the financial crisis, all businesses saw a drop in profit margins, and the drop is larger for businesses which saw a deterioration in the mental health situation.