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The Perils of Lifetime Employment Systems: Productivity Advance in the Indian and Japanese Textile Industries, 1920–1938

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  • Wolcott, Susan

Abstract

In the interwar period, Japanese textile firms were able to greatly increase labor efficiency and become the world's main exporter of cotton textiles. Meanwhile, the Indian industry stagnated and was forced to retreat behind tariff walls. This paper argues that the flexibility of the Japanese work force stemmed from its high turnover; the Indian laborers were collectively inflexible in defending lifetime careers against technical changes that reduced labor demand. As the industry requires only a few easily acquired skills, a committed work force was actually a disadvantage to Indian management.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolcott, Susan, 1994. "The Perils of Lifetime Employment Systems: Productivity Advance in the Indian and Japanese Textile Industries, 1920–1938," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(2), pages 307-324, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:54:y:1994:i:02:p:307-324_01
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    Cited by:

    1. Oro, Oro Ufuo & Alagidede, Paul, 2018. "The Nature of the finance–growth relationship: Evidence from a panel of oil-producing countries," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 89-102.
    2. Ashvin Ahuja & Thammarak Moenjak, 2002. "Economic Arrangements and Long-Term Growth in Thailand," Working Papers 2002-05, Monetary Policy Group, Bank of Thailand.
    3. Klaus Desmet & Stephen Parente, 2014. "Resistance to Technology Adoption: The Rise and Decline of Guilds," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(3), pages 437-458, July.
    4. Bishnupriya Gupta, 2011. "Wages, unions, and labour productivity: evidence from Indian cotton mills," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64, pages 76-98, February.
    5. Jerzmanowski, Michal, 2007. "Total factor productivity differences: Appropriate technology vs. efficiency," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 2080-2110, November.
    6. Gupta, Bishnupriya, 2006. "Unions, Wages and Labour Productivity: Evidence from Indian Cotton Mills," Economic Research Papers 269646, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
    7. Ramamurthy, Priti, 2000. "The Cotton Commodity Chain, Women, Work and Agency in India and Japan: The Case for Feminist Agro-Food Systems Research," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 551-578, March.
    8. Stephane Straub, 2011. "Infrastructure and Development: A Critical Appraisal of the Macro-level Literature," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(5), pages 683-708.
    9. Canton, Erik J. F. & de Groot, Henri L. F. & Nahuis, Richard, 2002. "Vested interests, population ageing and technology adoption," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 631-652, November.

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