Whither Japan's labour and financial markets? An Institutional Analysis

Professor Mari Sako

19.May.2010 17.00 - 18.30
The Conference Room, Humanities Research Institute - Sheffield


Japan's economic success has been attributed largely to the nature of its national institutions, such as relational banking, lifetime employment, and relational contracting in intermediate product markets. These institutions were tightly linked to govern the Japanese economy. But since the 1990s, more diverse patterns of organizing have become evident. For example, venture capital funds and initial public offerings appeared alongside relational banking to finance start-ups, and non-standard forms of employment came to be a significant alternative to the lifetime employment norm. This seminar will provide evidence up to 2008/9 in order to assess the nature of slow but certain institutional changes which are occurring in Japanese financial and labour markets. The discussion will attempt to address the future, what might emerge as a modified new system, and the nature of convergence and divergence with business systems in other parts of the world.


Professor Sako is Professor of Management Studies at the Said Business School, University of Oxford. Her focus has been on understanding how business enterprises are governed in different ways in different locations, with specific attention to human resources and supply chains. She has 20 years experience of researching about global strategy, resulting in the publication of five books and numerous articles in management and economics journals. Her books include Prices, Quality and Trust (1992) and Shifting Boundaries of the Firm (2006).

Professor Sako is a Senior Fellow of the ESRC/EPSRC Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM), researching on productivity and performance in business services, the impact of outsourcing on professions, and origins of the creation of shared and outsourced services. At Saïd, she is a member of the Novak Druce Centre for Professional Service Firms, to carry out research on the globalization of law firms, and the impact of legal process outsourcing on the legal profession. She was also the principal researcher of the International Motor Vehicle Programme, during 1993-2006, working on modularisation, outsourcing, and supplier parks in the global automotive industry.

After reading PPE at Oxford, Professor Sako studied for an MSc in Economics at the London School of Economics, and an MA in Economics at Johns Hopkins University, before completing her PhD at London University in 1990. From 1987 to 1997 she was Lecturer then Reader in Industrial Relations at LSE. She also held visiting positions at Kyoto University, Tokyo University, Ecole Polytechnique, and RIETI (Research Institute of the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry).