IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

What Japanese Workers Want: Evidence from the Japanese Worker Representation and Participation Survey


  • Hiroyuki Chuma
  • Takao Kato
  • Isao Ohashi


Using a unique new survey, the Japanese Worker Representation and Participation Survey (JWRPS), this paper presents the first evidence on the representation/participation gaps among Japanese workers and its links to the degree of their discontent with work and the efficacy of celebrated participatory employment practices. We find that: (i) contrary to the popular rhetoric of the end of "participatory Japanese management", Japanese workers still desire more involvement and greater voice in firm decisions; and (ii) in spite of their strong desire to have more influence, many Japanese workers consider their current level of say at work less than adequate, resulting in significant representation/participation gaps which are comparable to what has been found for U.S. workers. Furthermore, we find an alarming degree of discontent with work among Japanese workers, measured by diverse variables, and weak employee involvement and influence are found to be significantly linked to the degree of such discontent. Finally, our analysis of the survey data yields evidence in support of the hypotheses that: (i) working in firms with strong participatory programs will significantly enhance employee voice; (ii) among those working in participatory firms, actually participating in these programs will yield an additional boost for employee voice; and (iii) financial participation schemes will align the interest of employees with the interest of the firm and thus make employees wanting to have more influence in firm decisions. Our findings suggest that weakening participatory employment practices (as the popular rhetoric at times suggests) may result in exacerbating the already alarming degree of employee dissatisfaction in Japan.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:04019

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard B. Freeman & Morris M. Kleiner & Cheri Ostroff, 2000. "The Anatomy of Employee Involvement and Its Effects on Firms and Workers," NBER Working Papers 8050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hiroyuki Chuma, 2003. "Determinants of the Shadow Value of Simultaneous Information Sharing in the Japanese Machine-Tool Manufacturing Industry," NBER Chapters,in: Labor Markets and Firm Benefit Policies in Japan and the United States, pages 81-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ohkusa, Yasushi & Ohtake, Fumio, 1997. "The Productivity Effects of Information Sharing, Profit Sharing, and ESOPs," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 385-402, September.
    4. Takao Kato, 2003. "The Recent Transformation of Participatory Employment Practices in Japan," NBER Chapters,in: Labor Markets and Firm Benefit Policies in Japan and the United States, pages 39-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ann P. Bartel & Nachum Sicherman, 1999. "Technological Change and Wages: An Interindustry Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 285-325, April.
    6. Takao Kato & Motohiro Morishima, 1995. "The Productivity Effects of Human Resource Management Practices: Evidence from New Japanese Panel Data," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_143, Levy Economics Institute.
    7. Sandra E. Black & Lisa M. Lynch, 2001. "How To Compete: The Impact Of Workplace Practices And Information Technology On Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 434-445, August.
    8. Rosemary Batt, 1999. "Work Organization, Technology, and Performance in Customer Service and Sales," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(4), pages 539-564, July.
    9. Barton H. Hamilton & Jack A. Nickerson & Hideo Owan, 2003. "Team Incentives and Worker Heterogeneity: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Teams on Productivity and Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 465-497, June.
    10. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    11. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
    12. Ron Dore, 1996. "The End of Jobs for Life? Corporate Employment Systems: Japan and Elsewhere," CEP Occasional Papers 11, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    13. Kato, Takao, 2001. "The End of Lifetime Employment in Japan?: Evidence from National Surveys and Field Research," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 489-514, December.
    14. Ann P. Bartel, 2000. "Human Resource Management and Performance in the Service Sector: The Case of Bank Branches," NBER Working Papers 7467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Susan Helper, 1997. "Complementarity and Cost Reduction: Evidence from the Auto Supply Industry," NBER Working Papers 6033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. repec:bin:bpeajo:v:26:y:1995:i:1995-3:p:1-65 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Masanori Hashimoto & Yoshio Higuchi, 2005. "Issues Facing the Japanese Labor Market," Working Papers 05-01, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:04019. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (KUMAGAI, Akiko). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.