Interpersonal Communication Tactics and Procedural Justice for Uncertainty Management of Japanese Workers

Article excerpt

The objectives of the present study are (a) to explore the relationships among interpersonal communication tactics, perceived procedural justice, and the uncertainty of career stability of Japanese whitecollar workers; and (b) to reveal what kind of interpersonal communication tactics are effective for developing their perception of procedural justice and reducing their uncertainty of career stability. Three hundred and twenty-three Japanese white-collar workers participated in the research. The results of the data analysis with structural equation modeling (SEM) indicated that interpersonal communication tactics were not related directly to workers' uncertainty of their career stability but to perceived procedural justice, and perceived procedural justice influenced their uncertainty. Then, multiple regression analysis was conducted to find what kind of interpersonal communication tactics were related to uncertainty of career stability and effective for developing perceived procedural justice. Based on the results of the research, several academic and practical implications are presented.

Keywords: hard personal communication tactics; soft interpersonal communication tactics; rational interpersonal communication tactics; procedural justice; uncertainty of career stabilty; career stability

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Since the early 1990s, after the economy's bubble burst in Japan, increasing numbers of Japanese companies have introduced performance-based personnel practices, recognizing the limitations of the traditional personnel system of Japanese companies such as a seniority system and a grade personnel system (1) (Kusuda, 2002). Many Japanese workers are not accustomed to the new personnel system that allows managers to differentiate outcomes (i.e., salary and promotion) among workers and cut workers' salary based on their performance. In addition, superiors are not accustomed to strict performance appraisal that was not required under the seniority system. According to the survey by the Institute of Labor Administration (2003), about 60% of 157 personnel managers of Japanese companies noted that employees have complaints about performance-based personnel practices because they cannot establish a performance-appraisal system about which employees can be satisfied. Group-oriented people like Japanese workers (Hofstede, 1980, 1991) tend to prefer an equal distribution of outcomes to an equity reward system (Chen, Meindl, & Hui, 1998; Kim, Park, & Suzuki, 1990; Leung & Iwawaki, 1988; Leung & Park, 1986). Therefore, under the new personnel system, Japanese workers are more likely than under the traditional personnel system to feel injustice. Indeed, according to a survey by the Japan Productivity Center for Socio-economic Development (2003), 53.5% of 106,408 Japanese workers did not think that a salary system under the performance-based personnel practices was rational, and 58.3% of them did not think that the distribution of jobs was fair.

Because under the performance-based personnel practices, performance appraisal is connected directly with salary and promotion, appraisal of performance as unsatisfactory can threaten career stability. In particular, because Japanese workers are strongly oriented to uncertainty avoidance (Hofstede, 1980, 1991), they feel uncertainty of their work life strongly under the new system. Takahashi (2004) contended that Japanese companies should practice a management system by which Japanese workers can devote themselves to their work without being threatened by uncertainty.

In a situation where Japanese white-collar workers feel injustice and uncertainty about their careers due to the introduction of performance-based personnel practices, it is worthwhile to explore how to mitigate their injustice feelings or promote their justice feelings and manage their uncertainty of career stability. For that purpose, the present study will elucidate the function that interpersonal communication plays in influencing workers' perception of justice and uncertainty management. …