Shifting Boundaries of the Firm: Japanese Company – Japanese Labour

Sako, M. (2006)

(Paperback edition 2008)

Oxford: Oxford University Press

All firms wrestle with restructuring, involving consolidation of mergers and acquisitions on the one hand, and fragmentation through outsourcing and spin-offs on the other. Through an in-depth investigation into the organizational strategies of Japanese corporate management and union leaders in Japan, Mari Sako explores the issue of 'organizational boundaries' that arises from such restructuring. Examining the strategy and structure of both businesses and trade unions, the book draws upon empirical evidence drawn from interviews conducted at Toyota and Matsushita and their respective unions. It examines their respective strategies in coping with organizational boundaries against the backdrop of changing labour markets, and, in the process, challenges widely held notions about Japanese corporate and union structures. Mari Sako goes on to explore the implications of these relationships in other advanced industrial countries for corporate restructuring, jobs, and labour market flexibility.

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Are Skills the Answer?

Crouch, C., Finegold, D. and Sako, M. (1999)

(Paperback edition 2001)

Oxford: Oxford University Press

This study of vocational education in advanced industrial countries contributes to two different areas of debate. The first is the study of the diversity of institutional forms taken by modern capitalism, and the difficulties currently surrounding the survival of that diversity. Rather than analysing economic institutions and governance in general, the authors specifically focus upon the key area of skill creation. The second theme is that of vocational education and training in its own right. While sharing the consensus that the advanced countries must secure competitive advantage in a global economy by developing highly-skilled work forces, the authors draw attention to certain awkward aspects of this approach that are often glossed over in general debate: 1. The employment-generating power of improvements in skill levels is limited: employment policy cannot depend fully on education policies; 2. While the acquisition of skills has become a major public need, there is increasing dependence for their provision on individual firms, with government action being restricted to residual care for the unemployed, rather than contributing at the leading edge of advanced skills policy.

Covering France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the UK, and the USA, this book provides a unique approach to education and training within the broader political and economic environment. As such, it will appeal to students, teachers, and practitioners concerned with vocational training, human resource management, industrial relations, and the sociology of the economy.

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How the Japanese Learn to Work, a substantially revised Second Edition

Dore, R. P. and Sako, M. (1998) 

London: Routledge (with Italian translation)

As many countries in the world seek to improve their economic performance by increasing their vocational education and training, Japan is being looked to as a leader in this field - the ideal model to imitate. This book provides a thorough examination of vocational education and training in all parts of the Japanese system; from primary education in-house training within companies and on the shop floor. This study profiles the role of the government and shows how success in Japan is often achieved by going against what is regarded as ideal practice elsewhere: for example, much Japanese training is carried out informally by colleagues, the motivation being pride in doing the job well rather than a means to personal advancement.

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Japanese Labour and Management in Transition: Diversity, Flexibility and Participation

Sako, M. and Sato, H. (1997)

London: Routledge

Recession in Japan has changed the face of Japanese industrial relations. Part one of the study outlines recent trends in Japanese labour markets, labour law and corporate strategy. It focuses on specific categories of labour such as: white collar workers; women workers; foreign workers; and older workers. The second part examines the changing interaction between the state, management and labour at both the macro and micro level. Topics include: the public sector and privatisation; collective bargaining and joint consultation; and labour-management relations in small firms. Drawing on research from leading Japanese scholars, this study considers the future of industrial relations in Japan in the face of increasing economic pressures.

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Prices, Quality and Trust: Inter-firm Relations in Britain and Japan

Sako, M. (1990)

(Paperback edition 2007)

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

The management of buyer-supplier relations has come to be regarded as a key to achieving manufacturing competitiveness, particularly in sectors facing global competition based on both price and quality. This book is a theoretical and empirical exploration of the link between the type of buyer-supplier relations and corporate performance. Dr Sako examines how British and Japanese companies in the electronics industry manage their relationships with buyers and suppliers, the empirical study comprising a three-way comparison of a Japanese customer company, a British customer company, and a Japanese company in Britain, and an analysis of 36 supplier companies in Britain and Japan. Variations of the companies' business practices are assessed in terms of technology, the nature of market competition, the national legal framework, financial structures, employment systems, and the mode of entrepreneurship.

The author identifies two distinct approaches in the two countries - the arm's-length contractual relation (ACR) in Britain, and the obligational contractual relation (OCR) in Japan - and argues that the trust and interdependence present in the latter can be a powerful springboard from which to achieve corporate success.

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How the Japanese Learn to Work

Dore, R. P. and Sako, M. (1989)

London: Routledge

Provides a thorough examination of vocational education and training in all parts of the education system, from primary education through to in-house training in companies and on the shop floor.