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Japanese HRM Practices

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Japanese HRM Practices


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Japanese school of human resources management is universally recognized for its unique ability of aligning the existing resources of the company with its timely and effectively needs (Pascha, 2004). Most importantly, the Japanese firms were reported to be exceptionally successful in 1980s and demonstrated full preponderance over the Western school of management. Human resources departments of the West virtually stole some ideas and conceptual frameworks, utilized by their Japanese colleagues (Matanle, 2003). Some scholarly studies regard this practice as compensation for the Japanese imitation of the Western culture and business methods which took place at the early 19th century, when Japan was economically and culturally discovered and explored by the Western world (Crawford, 1998).

However, with the advent of the technological era, it becomes clear that Japanese approach to human resources management can no longer successfully handle the emerging tasks and respond to the fluctuations of the global market effectively. Nowadays, it becomes evident that the system needs full renovation and reintegration of the Western solutions, which help the companies keep afloat and function effectively. In other words, combination of the inherently Japanese approach with the Western technological accomplishments and human resources practices achievements is necessary, in order to revitalize Japan’s economy and drive the country out of the economic and employment recessions.

The objective of this paper is to analyze the human resources practices in Japan and to conclude on their efficiency, accentuating the concept of teamwork. The paper identifies the disadvantages of the Japanese school and offers specific solutions on how the human resource management in Japan can be innovated and updated.

The Traits of the Japanese Human Resources Management

Human resources management in Japan possessed a plethora of unique advantages, which are inherent to this school excessively.

First and foremost, the Japan school always followed the so-called system of lifetime employment (Pascha, 2004). When a graduate comes to company upon the completion of his degree, is traditionally expected to spend his entire career within a particular entity. The rookie is rotated through different departments of the company, so that he can be trained in different fields of company performance, although in the long run it is planned that an employer will major in the particular field of the company practice.

Secondly, the Japanese always followed the system of seniority-based salaries and wages (Matanle, 2003). In other words, it is impossible for new entrant to receive big salary, no matter how talented and skilled he may be. Salaries and bonus payments can be increased only by the promotion, which in its turn depends on the time the employee was with the company (Kato & Morishima, 2003). No exceptional circumstances to this rule exist, and even though the performance of an employee may seem to be effective, he should always wait for the expiration of term of the particular tenure, in order to get promoted.

Thirdly, the Japanese school of management offers full job-related security. To illustrate, the employees are rarely dismissed and financially punished for their poor performance. The only necessary requirement for further promotion was known to be personal loyalty, professional growth and aspirations. The top managers of the Japanese business community always believed that practically any employee could be trained effectively to meet the needs of the company and there is no need to replace someone, if he does not meet the requirements at a particular point of time. Several pre-crisis studies conducted in this regard informed that the overwhelming majority of the Japanese workers were never afraid of unemployment or diminishment of their salaries.

Overall, this is absolutely clear that the objective of the Japanese human resources management model is to ensure stability. The model borders business conservatism, which was an inherent feature of the business management cycles during the industrial era of economy.

Why Japanese HRM Was Successful?

Several factors are traditionally attributed to validate the successfulness of the Japanese approach during 1980s.

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First and foremost, the Japanese companies were known for their stability which was considered as a synonym for reliability. The market and international financial system reported to be developing evolutionary, i.e. gradually and in full observance of the existing laws of economic development. Therefore, reliable and stable trade partners were necessitated by the European and American contractors, although Japan heavily relied on the Asian market.

Japanese corporate success is primarily connected with the rapid growth of technology and automotive industries at the onset of the 1980, when large companies like Sony or Honda managed to identify the needs of the international market in general and the Asian one, in particular. Suzuki Inc. is credited with honors for being among the pioneers of the Japanese management approach.

The contractors at that juncture of the international market development preferred stability and quality, which the Japanese outlets managed to achieve through their human resources management techniques. Each employee was personally responsible for the quality of the produced item, and here the highest standards of quality and customers care have been achieved.

Why Japanese Human Resources Management Is no Longer Successful?

The unanimous opinion of the scholars and the practitioners in this regard is that with the advent of the recent global financial recession, the nature and composition of the international marker has been tremendously altered. During the epoch of the Japanese school prosperity, stability of the market was worshipped. The companies had ample opportunities to make financial projections for decades, and long-term cooperative relationships with the customers and the contractors have been established.

Nowadays, the global financial situation is a far cry from the one of the 1980th. The customers no longer value stability and expertise these traits are assumed to be integrally possessed by any entity operating on the international company. On the other hand, the issue of innovativeness has become of paramount commercial importance. The practice, however, indicates that lifetime affiliation with one company annihilates this vital virtue of the employees. In other words, a typical employee becomes professionally blind, since his professional limits are confined to his career with a particular company.

The managers from Japan have always recognized the role of motivation. However, the bonus payments are still confined to the successfulness of an employees performance in a firm. In the most prioritized industries nowadays, especially in technology, it is not possible to demonstrate high effectiveness on a permanent basis. Therefore, the motivation strategy currently employed by the Japanese has most assuredly become obsolete.

What Can Be Done?

Nowadays, considering the fact that the Human Resources Managerial techniques contemporarily embraced by the Japanese managerial school no longer meet the realities, the most advisable option remains the merger of the Japanese school with the Western doctrines, with the United States one in particular, which are known to reflect the vacillations of the market relatively effectively.

The cornerstone of the proposed solution is that it is proposed to mix Eastern stability and loyalty with the Western innovativeness and teamwork. As it has already been accentuated, the Japanese predominantly rely on the individual responsibility of the taskforce, whereas their European and American colleagues are more inclined to foster a teamwork approach.

Moreover, the Japanese firms are highly recommended to desist from lifetime employment doctrine, as well as from their conventional motivational strategies. Rotation through different companies should be allowed, in order to mix the expertise of an individual worker, as well as to reinforce it through teamwork approach.

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