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Transforming Incentives : Analysis of Personnel and Employee Output Data in a Large Japanese Auto Sales Firm

  • Tsuru, Tsuyoshi
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    This paper analyzes the economic consequences of performance-oriented human resource (HR) system reform at Auto Japan (pseudonym), one of the largest Japanese auto sales firms, using personnel and employee output data. The author overviews the three major components of the HR reform: base wages, performance-based pay, and performance rating systems. Then the author examines the productivity effect of the reform. The performance-based pay system was changed from combining a base wage with a simple performance pay system to a scheme kinked around a draw line (representing aggregate base pay) to strengthen incentives. The introduction of the draw formula performance-based pay system raised the productivity of the new car sales staff, but generally failed to raise the productivity of the used car sales staff. The evidence suggests that while Auto Japan's performance-oriented HR system reform, which was typical of reforms instituted among major Japanese firms in the late 1990s, changed the wage structure and grading pattern of employees, it brought only slight improvement in individual productivity.

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    Article provided by Hitotsubashi University in its journal Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics.

    Volume (Year): 49 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 2 (December)
    Pages: 109-132

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    Handle: RePEc:hit:hitjec:v:49:y:2008:i:2:p:109-132
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    1. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2006. "Incentives for managers and inequality among workers: Evidence from a firm level experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00213, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    3. Harry J. Paarsch & Bruce S. Shearer, 1996. "Piece Rates, Fixed Wages, and Incentive Effects: Statistical Evidence from Payroll Records," CIRANO Working Papers 96s-31, CIRANO.
    4. Amiya K. Basu & Rajiv Lal & V. Srinivasan & Richard Staelin, 1985. "Salesforce Compensation Plans: An Agency Theoretic Perspective," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(4), pages 267-291.
    5. Harry J. Paarsch & Bruce S. Shearer, 1999. "The Response of Worker Effort to Piece Rates: Evidence from the British Columbia Tree-Planting Industry," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(4), pages 643-667.
    6. Edward P. Lazear, 1996. "Performance Pay and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
    8. Paul Oyer, 1998. "Fiscal Year Ends And Nonlinear Incentive Contracts: The Effect On Business Seasonality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 149-185, February.
    9. Beth J. Asch, 1990. "Do incentives matter? The case of Navy recruiters," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 89-106, February.
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