"Voice" and "Exit" in Japanese Firms during the Second World War: Sanpo Revisited
During the Second World War, the Japanese government and private sector searched for and implemented new mechanisms for coordination and motivation. One of these was sangyo hokokukai (sanpo). Sanpo unit was basically an organization of the employer and employees of each firm, which held meetings to moderate labor relations. Due to the government policy to promote sanpo units, around 70% of the total workers in Japan were organized into sanpo units in the early 1940s. As the members of labor unions and the workers of the companies which had factory committees, were only 7 % and 5% of the total workers in 1936 respectively, sanpo was the first large scale mechanism for Japanese employees to voice. In this paper, I examined the role of sanpo, using prefecture level data and firm level data, based on a framework integrating the "voice view" of unionism and the transaction cost economics. It was found that sanpo reduced the participation rate in labor disputes, and enhanced labor productivity at least in some period.
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