Flexibility in Japanese internal labour markets: The introduction of performance-related pay

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The introduction of performance-related pay by Japanese firms, a development known as seikashugi, stands out as the most important adjustment in their management of regular employees. This paper discusses this development and analyses its implications for the logic of Japanese employment practices. Previous analyses and developments in other countries suggest that it could imply a breakdown of the internal labour market, a key feature of Japanese employment practices. However, drawing on theories of institutional change and two studies among Japanese firms in 2002 and 2007, this paper argues that implications have been modest in spite of the appearance of convergence. Enabled by its flexibility and a continued support for the practice of lifetime employment, the Japanese internal labour market has assimilated performance-related pay and shaped its own transformation. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-594
Number of pages21
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • Employment practices
  • Institutional change
  • Internal labour markets
  • Japan
  • Performance-related pay


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