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The Recent Transformation of Participatory Employment Practices in Japan

In: Labor Markets and Firm Benefit Policies in Japan and the United States

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  • Takao Kato

Abstract

Using both quantitative data from national surveys and qualitative data from our own field research, this paper provides evidence on changes in participatory employment practices in Japan during the economic slowdown in the 1990s. Overall, consistent with the complementarity of such practices and the long-term nature of their effects, evidence points to the enduring nature of such practices (except for small to medium size firms with no union where we find evidence for management to try to weaken the role of employee participation). There are, however, a few early signs of trouble even for large, unionized firms, which might eventually result in the breakdown of the system if left untreated. First, while the number of full time union officials has been falling substantially as a result of continued downsizing of the firm's labor force, the amount of time and effort that union officials need to put into participatory employment practices have not been falling. This often results in an uncompensated increase in workload for union officials. If this trend continues, union officials who have been playing a key role in Japanese participatory management will become less effective and less committed to the interest of the rank and files. Second, top management sometimes finds its participatory management system detrimental to timely and efficient management, and hence tries to streamline the system. Overloaded union officials may offer less resistance to this kind of management initiative. Third, the current system tends to produce a gap in the quantity and quality of information acquired from management between top union officials and their general membership. It is conceivable that such a gap may eventually result in the breakdown of the system.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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This chapter was published in:

  • Seiritsu Ogura & Toshiaki Tachibanaki & David A. Wise, 2003. "Labor Markets and Firm Benefit Policies in Japan and the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ogura03-1, October.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10302.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10302

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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Kambayashi, Ryo & Kato, Takao, 2013. "Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, and the Great Recession: Lessons from Japan’s Lost Decade," CEI Working Paper Series 2013-01, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    2. Hiroyuki Chuma & Takao Kato & Isao Ohashi, 2004. "What Japanese Workers Want: Evidence from the Japanese Worker Representation and Participation Survey," Discussion papers 04019, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    3. Kato, Takao & Lee, Ju Ho & Ryu, Jang-Soo, 2010. "The Productivity Effects of Profit Sharing, Employee Ownership, Stock Option and Team Incentive Plans: Evidence from Korean Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 5111, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Takao Kato & Ju HO Lee & Kang-sung Lee & Jang-soo Ryu, 2005. "Employee participation and involvement in korea: evidence from a new survey and field research," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 251-281.
    5. Ariga, Kenn & Kambayashi, Ryo, 2010. "Employment and wage adjustments at firms under distress in Japan: An analysis based upon a survey," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 213-235, June.
    6. Kato, Takao & Owan, Hideo, 2011. "Market characteristics, intra-firm coordination, and the choice of human resource management systems: Theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 375-396.
    7. Uwe Jirjahn & Jens Mohrenweiser & Uschi Backes‐Gellner, 2011. "Works Councils and Learning: On the Dynamic Dimension of Codetermination," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 427-447, 08.
    8. Jones, Derek C. & Kato, Takao, 2007. "The Impact of Teams on Output, Quality and Downtime: An Empirical Analysis Using Individual Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 2917, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. ARIGA Kenn & KAMBAYASHI Ryo, 2009. "Employment and Wage Adjustments at Firms under Distress in Japan: An analysis based upon a survey," Discussion papers 09042, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    10. Kenn Ariga & Ryo Kambayashi, 2009. "Employment and Wage Adjustments at Firms under Distress in Japan: An Analysis Based upon a Survey," KIER Working Papers 668, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    11. Zwick, Thomas, 2004. "Employee participation and productivity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(6), pages 715-740, December.
    12. Derek C. Jones & Takao Kato, 2003. "The Effect of Employee Involvment on Firm Performance: Evidence from an Econometric Case Study," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-612, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.

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