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Cross-National Appropriation of Work Systems

Japanese Firms in the UK

Ayse Saka

The diffusion of work processes across countries through foreign direct investment and technological collaborations is an increasingly important practice in today’s global economy. Ayse Saka explores this process both by focusing on the role of actors in appropriating different ways of operating and by examining the effects of the institutional environment in the host country.
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Chapter 2: The Double Embeddedness Barrier

Ayse Saka


In this chapter, the application of the analytic framework, constructed in Chapter One, is discussed. The process of work systems diffusion is examined within Anglo-Japanese collaborations. The Japanese and UK contexts are discussed as nationally distinct social settings with specific organizational structural and cultural legacies. For this purpose, detailed descriptions are provided for each country relating to the nature of HRM systems or employment practices, such as the following: reward systems and employee governance, workplace relations and task organization and control or structural forms. The variation in the structural and cultural legacies between the two countries is shown to hinder the diffusion of ‘new’ work systems. A discussion of the institutional limits to the diffusion of work systems at the national level is followed by an outline of the difference in emphasis placed on tacit and explicit knowledge between Japan and the UK. The resulting insights on work systems diffusion are related to the analytic framework to fomulate a set of propositions with regard to the influence of institutional and organizational characteristics on the implementation and internalization of knowledge-driven work systems. 1. LIMITS TO DIFFUSION OF WORK SYSTEMS As was discussed in Chapter One, the diffusion of work systems can be influenced by the variation in the institutional settings of the source and adopter firms. This section discusses the difficulty in the diffusion of work systems, specifically from the Japanese context to that of the UK. The present...

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