Work and Pay in the United States and Japan

By Clair Brown; Yoshifumi Nakata et al. | Go to book overview

3
Employee Involvement and Training

Introduction

It is widely believed that the employment system in Japan is structured to generate more employee involvement (EI) in production tasks and more skill training of workers than in the United States. Thus, Japanese workers are said to contribute hundreds of individual suggestions per year to improve productivity, to participate wholeheartedly in quality circles, and in general to be unlike U.S. workers, who rarely make above-norm efforts to increase company performance. Japanese employers are said to provide many more hours of formal training each year to their workers, enabling continual skill growth. These characteristics are believed to account for much of the faster productivity growth rate of the Japanese economy documented in Chapter 1. They provide much of the basis for U.S. management's initiatives in the 1990s to increase the use of teams, job rotation, quality circles, and other well-known Japanese management practices on the shop floor, and they underly repeated calls for U.S. employers to step up sharply the training of their work force.

As we noted in the last chapter, many observers attribute these better outcomes to a key institutional characteristic of the Japanese system: the lifetime employment commitment afforded to many Japanese workers. In this view, a lifetime employment commitment means that the productivity and other cost improvements that are generated by EI do not place the existing work force at risk of a layoff, so that high-performing workers know they will not hurt their peers. 1 Long-term em-

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Work and Pay in the United States and Japan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Comparing Employment Systems 3
  • Note 20
  • 2 - Security 21
  • Notes 61
  • 3 - Employee Involvement and Training 67
  • Introduction 67
  • Summary: Employee Involvement and Training in the Set Model 94
  • Notes 95
  • 4 - Pay Systems, Career Paths, and Earnings Inequality 97
  • Introduction 97
  • Summary and Major Findings 130
  • Appendix: Calculation of Standard Career Paths 132
  • Appendix: Calculation of Standard Career Paths 134
  • 5 - Employers and Unions 137
  • Notes 156
  • 6 - National Wage Determination in Japan 158
  • Summary 189
  • Notes 190
  • 7 - Conclusion 191
  • References 209
  • Index 227
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