Human Resource Management of the Japanese Organisations


Human Resource Management (HRM) practices in the Japanese firms were associated with economic prosperity in the past. Emergence of financial crises in Japan in 1990’s shifted nature of research conducted on the Japanese organisations. Scholars had earlier advocated for adoption of managerial aspects, upheld by the Japanese firms in 1960’s.

Failure of the Japanese organisations was attributed to management practices, which had been predicted as the best future recommendations. Despite the shifted inclination, minimal evolutions have been noted among the Japanese organisations. Notably, most of management practices in the Japanese organisations have cultural foundations. The essay will scrutinise ways in which HRM practices are crucial in success of the Japanese organisations. The impacts of the team work factors, incorporated in the Japanese organisations will be discussed.

Main Body

Scholars have referred to the HRM practices among the Japanese organisations, as being people oriented. Japanese organisations hire employees to work for long periods and give them incentives to boost their motivation. Harmony and organisation cohesion are upheld in the managerial practices. Boosted motivation increases a level of productivity, which promotes profitability margins in the Japanese organisations. Job satisfaction is promoted by application of Japanese values, which are embedded in the managerial aspects.

Economic stagnation in 1990’s stimulated the need to evolve or reconstruct managerial practices in the Japanese organisations. Strategies that enhance socialisation have been implemented with the focus on the quality work and the effective team practices being emphasised. The job rotation and slow promotion are among the practices that ensure there is an organisation cohesion, essential in success of the Japanese organisations. The HRM practices encourage employee welfare, open communication, participation in decision making, evaluation of behavior and attributes. Working groups are emphasised in the Japanese organisations.

Tremendous research has been done concerning the topic of the HRM. The human resource includes employees, suppliers, franchisees and their customers. The management of human resource in the Japanese organisations is wrapped around lifelong employment, seniority systems and company unions. Senior versus junior relationship embedded in the Japanese culture and represented in the Japanese organisations, plays a crucial role in the success of the Japanese organisations.

The Japanese organisations are structured in a way that recognises existence of senior and junior members in firms. In the Japanese society, juniors are expected to be loyal and respectful to senior members. Similarly, senior members are expected to guide and advise junior members. In this perspective, apprenticeship model is practiced in the HRM of the Japanese organisations.

Senior employees are expected to teach junior ones. As a result, the Japanese organisations are less likely to hire senior executives from outside. Those in leadership prepare incoming executives, as a way of acknowledging tradition and culture. Outgoing leaders leave admirable image in the Japanese organisations.

Individualism versus collectivism model is also incorporated in the HRM practices in the Japanese organisations. Priority is given to the employees of the Japanese organisations, since they are considered as being a part of family. Existence of insiders and outsiders is distinct in the Japanese organisations. The focus is on collectivism that can be interpreted as entire welfare of employees of the Japanese organisations. In this regard, promotions in the Japanese organisations are held, with the needs of existing employees in mind. Promotions are organised based on the company ranks.

Communication is shared in all levels of the Japanese organisations. Consensus building is encouraged among the Japanese industries. An idea originates in a bottom level and reaches executive management. Consensus building is associated with existence of lifelong employees and comprehensive HRM. Long tenured employees will ensure that there are official managers and functional executive, which do not necessarily represent shareholders’ values. In this regard, consistency in leadership model will be installed, thereby increasing chances of success in the productivity and profitability of the Japanese organisations.

Seniority systems are well incorporated. Promotion procedure considers members who are at the verge of retirement. Seniority systems were pronounced in the early 1980’s before economic crises in Japan. Senior employees who are likely to be old receive higher remuneration than junior employees. Seniority system installs loyalty that is considered to be integral in the success of the Japanese organisations. In this regard, a manager does not see a junior employee as a competitor or threat, but rather a responsibility.

Trend has however changed recently and can be attributed to incidence of economic stagnation. Annual merit pay is slowly replacing senior wage system model, practiced in the Japanese organisations. Transition has been associated with a need to foster creativity and innovation, which will increase chances of success.

Annual merit pays emphasises on the performance model that replaces ability model. Recent research has shown that the Japanese firms that have adopted suggested changes have not been successful. The success of the Japanese firms was based on the traditional values that were incorporated in management during economic prosperity period (Bebenroth and Kanai, 2010).

The Japanese organisations recruit fresh graduates from high school annually. Criterion is based on general efficacy of candidates. Candidates, who have attained tertiary level education and participated in outstanding activities, are more qualified than those that have not. Qualified employees from other firms are not considered during the process of recruiting new employees. Employees are engaged in long term relationship with the Japanese organisations. Recruitment of fresh candidates ensures that potential of resources is exploited to maximum, thereby increasing chances of success in the Japanese firms.

New employees are selected based on personal traits and not necessarily proficiency. Despite the fact that larger Japanese multinationals emphasise on recruitment of graduates from recognised universities, examination process focuses on the memorised facts rather than the specific proficiency. Employees are expected to be flexible and able to relate well with other employees, since team work is significant in the management of the Japanese organisations. Incentive systems are meant to increase job value.

Since 1960’s, incentives have been enjoyed by senior employees. Wages are based on employee’s ability to perform. There are assessment systems that are used to evaluate attributes and ability of employees. Assessment ratings are essential, since they determine ranks of employees which are used to assign remuneration. In this regard, productivity among employees is boosted since incentives are based on performance.

Assessments and evaluations are conducted annually, when employees automatically get pay raise in form of bonuses. In this perspective, rewards and incentives are increased by the advancement of years of employment in the Japanese organisations. The employees in the Japanese organisations are more committed and productive due to the highly maintained motivation. Incentive system promotes linkage and cohesion within the Japanese organisations. Junior employees support incentive system, since it is fair for employees to benefit from their years of labor in the Japanese organisations.

Seniority systems and long employment match the Japanese values. Teamwork or cooperation is reinstated, since young employees work closely with senior employees. In this regard, success of the Japanese organisations is maintained since an employee, who is well versed with operations of the organisation, is promoted to the managerial position.

Time that would have been spent in orientation or familiarisation process in case of a new leader in the Japanese organisation is spent in constructive and productive activities. Employees are engaged in decision making process, thereby increasing chances of success in the Japanese organisations due to cohesion.

The Japanese organisations associate their success with efficiency of management. Leaders have to be familiarised with the operations of the organisation before they can engage in managerial issues. Chief executive officer is expected to mentor a junior employee who will replace him. The junior employee learns and identifies his/her leadership style with that of the senior executive. Other members are informed of managerial choice and have to accept it before formal declaration can be made. Acceptance of the choice by the other employees renders the apprenticeship successful and is continued in future management of Japanese organisations.

Despite the inclination on seniority systems, Japanese organisations have stepped in to reduce reluctance among employees, due to guaranteed rewards associated with long working periods. Employees have a reason to work harder due to increased benefits, associated with performance. For example, recruitment of a manager acknowledged length of period in organisation, as well as performance ability. Apprenticeship ensured that success associated with management was maintained, despite the change of main actors.

The Japanese organisations maintain motivation among all employees. Promotion procedures are not known to employees and they have to remain productive and motivated until promotions are done. Since performance is considered as an essential attribute of a manager, aspiring employees compete for the position by being more productive. The increased productivity is positively correlated with profitability and success of the Japanese organisations.

Further, the Japanese organisations maintain enthusiasm associated with the managerial position. Since there are few positions for managers, stiff competition leaves qualified senior employees out of the management. The Japanese organisations create subsidiaries and company unions, as a way of increasing positions for managers. In this perspective, senior employees who are qualified for managerial position but have not been appointed are transferred to subsidiary and affiliates as managers. Company unions have increased motivation of employees in the Japanese organisations and are integral in success (Bidwell, 2011).

The Japanese organisations recognise the essence of development of human resource, so as to be at the same pace with the evolution of technology and globalisation. The mission is to recruit, develop and maintain high performing employees since they will increase profitability. As a result, employees of the Japanese organisations must have trained in acceptable institutions for them to be able to render better services. Employees are given an opportunity to engage in periodic training, which is meant to boost empowerment on how to be more productive.

The Japanese organisations have organised leadership and management events that all employees are trained, so as to foster motivation and job satisfaction. Further, valuable awards are given to outstanding employees, so as to boost both intrinsic and extrinsic values. Managers also benefit as mentoring events practiced, promote sharing and development of managerial skills (Bidwell, 2011). As a result, there is smooth leadership and management in the Japanese organisations which further diversify success and profitability.

Team work performance is enhanced in the Japanese organisations, so as to foster cohesion that will increase productivity and profitability. Motivation to work in a team is beneficial in productivity of the Japanese organisations. Scholars argue that cohesion can influence the Japanese organisation behavior negatively as well as positively. Interaction and job satisfaction are associated with cohesion and leads to an increased productivity in the Japanese organisations. On the other hand, studies have found that dependency and absenteeism issues were more pronounced based on close relationship and cohesion in the Japanese organisations.

Studies have further established that there exists positive correlation between cohesion and motivation. Cohesion in ensures unity that can be manifested by the shared mission. Team performance is highly dependent on a level of cohesion in the Japanese organisation behavior. Consequently, inspirational power is more likely to be felt when there is cohesion.

Cohesion would mean that leaders in the Japanese organisations are exceptional and admired by their employees. When there is cohesion, employees will identify with their leaders because of their skills and will emulate them. The leaders in the Japanese organisations set a good example which encourages team assessment.

Inspiration is the form of power that leaders of the Japanese organisations prefer instead of legitimate one. The organisation strategy of the Japanese firms involves dialogue so as to ensure effective communication that is important in management of organisations. Communication is effective at all levels of the Japanese organisations. Studies report that the team performance is positively influenced by the effective communication (Bidwell, 2011). Employees are more likely to be motivated if organisation values dialogue.

Managers in Japanese organisations give room for healthy conflicts, since they lead to establishment of better decisions. Leaders know when to step in during the challenges and conflicts, so as to ensure cohesion and other organisation practices are not degraded. Creativity and desire to ensure participation are established by ensuring effective management of conflicts. All employees of the Japanese firms have a duty of ensuring that the organisation strategy is well implemented and reduce negative impacts that may come along. Leadership and management are integral issues which must be well organised if organisation behavior is desired.

The Japanese organisations deal with challenges and ensure that firms are as competitive as possible (Beiske, 2007). Training sessions and opportunities for further studies are availed in the Japanese organisations, so as to ensure that employees are updated on emergent issues and knowledge. Focus is on long term effects and not short term ones.


Different scholars have given various views concerning the Japanese organisations. Comparative literature has been compiled in process of comprehending managerial aspects, incorporated in the Japanese organisations. Unique management of human resource in the Japanese firms has been associated with prosperity and success.

Success is embedded in cultural values of Japan, thus likely to be sustainable. Profitability of Japanese firms is associated with communication, cohesion as well as conflicts management. Effective communication in Japanese organisations ensures participation which is associated with success sustainability.

Effective team practices that promote cohesion enhance intensity of success in the Japanese organisations. Relationship between leaders and employees has led to tremendous success. Focus on long term strategies increases sustainability of success enjoyed by the Japanese organisations. Healthy conflicts are essential in managerial process of the Japanese organisations.

Effect of teamwork practices in management of the Japanese organisations is positive. Profitability is dependent on productivity which is positively influenced by the effective team work processes. Society values are important in the success of the Japanese organisations. Strategic management is essential as success is not based on capital availability, but rather cohesiveness and team work.

Global management strategy of the Japanese firms is based on human resource since it determines success measure of organisations. Favorable working conditions ensure that human resource is more productive. Recruitment process is also essential in success of the Japanese firms. Leadership and managerial skills are reinforced through periodic training and development programmes of Japanese organisations.


Bebenroth, R & Kanai, T 2010, Challenges of Human Resource Management in Japan, Routledge Publishing, New York.

Beiske, B 2007, The System of Wage-Setting Japan, Germany and the US: Towards Convergence? Druck und Bindung, Germany.

Bidwell, M 2011, Paying More to Get Less: Specific Skills, Matching,and the Effects of External Hiring versus Internal Promotion, Prentice-Hall Publishing, New York.

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