Japanese Employment Practices, Their Institutional Character and the Implications for Change

Dr Arjan Keizer, Bradford University School of Management

10.Mar.2010 17.00 - 18.30
The Conference Room, Humanities Research Institute - Sheffield
Recent decades have seen extensive debate about the future of Japan’s employment practices, with as main developments the rise in performance-related pay (seikashugi) and non-regular employment. These developments suggest substantial change as they affect the internal labour market that has long been core to the human resource management by Japanese firms. The rise in non-regular employment diminishes this market’s relevance while the rise in performance-related pay directly impacts its functioning.

This seminar discusses the character of these changes by drawing on research among major Japanese firms during the last decade and insights from institutional theory. It focuses on the institutional character of the employment practices and shows how factors such as legitimacy and institutional interlock have guaranteed an important continuity. Moreover, existing practices have not just constrained but also supported change as they have shaped the main developments. The outcomes are therefore not as revolutionary as once expected but are likely to endure. Furthermore, the employment practices remain specifically ‘Japanese’ and expectations of convergence appear misplaced.


Arjan Keizer (www.abkeizer.weebly.com) is Lecturer in Comparative Employment Relations at the Bradford University School of Management. His research focuses on the comparative study of employment practices and relations, with a particular focus on Japan and, to a lesser extent, the Netherlands. Important themes include processes of change in national systems of employment relations; the relation between national employment practices and firms’ personnel strategies, labour market segmentation, and the likelihood of institutional convergence. The research draws on various theories and approaches like theories of institutional change, discussion of internal labour markets and labour market segmentation, and the (critical) study of the various economic theories of the firm like transaction cost economics and the resource-based view. Recent publications include a book by Routledge, entitled Changes in Japanese Employment Practices, and articles in the Asia Pacific Journal of Management, the International Journal of Human Resource Management and Work, Employment and Society.

All welcome!