Understanding managerial work in the modern Japanese firm: The influence of new organizational forms and changing human resource management practices

Jonathan Morris, John Hassard, Rick Delbridge, Takahiro Endo

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Abstract

The aim of this study is to understand the nature of managerial work in Japan during an era of widespread corporate reform and changing human resource management (HRM) practices. To achieve this, a qualitative multi-method investigation was designed in which data were collected from company documents, ethnographic observations, and principally in-depth interviews with senior, middle and junior managers. These managers worked for five large Japanese corporations whose operations were based respectively in a range of industrial and commercial sectors. Silhouetted against widespread corporate restructuring and assessing managers’ personal rationalizations of key HRM concerns – vis-a-vis job security levels, payment systems, promotion/career systems, trades union activities and work-time expectations – the study found significant age, experience and gender-related differences in the experience of managerial work and working environments. Finally, in conceptual terms, the project adopts an approach in which Weickian sensemaking and business systems theory are deployed to frame evidence that reflects macro (institutional), meso (organizational) and micro (individual) levels of analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1378-1406
Number of pages29
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Volume42
Issue number4
Early online date26 Sept 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Business systems
  • human resource management
  • Japan
  • managerial work
  • organizational forms
  • sensemaking

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