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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 3: Research Methodology

Ayse Saka


This chapter concerns the methodological aspects of the study presented here: that is, where and how the research project was carried out so as to arrive at answers to the central research question. The criteria used to select firms for the field study as well as the process of collecting and analysing data are addressed. The study systematically compares three cases in the automotive sector – Teniki UK, Nissera UK and the Rover–Honda collaboration – to highlight the conditions for the implementation and internalization of Japanese work systems. 1. DATA COLLECTION The Selection of Firms Data were collected relating to the degree to which Japanese knowledgedriven work systems were put into practice and accepted at two UK subsidiary firms in the automotive manufacturing sector and a UK-based Anglo-Japanese technical collaboration between two major car manufacturers. The automotive sector lent itself to investigating the limits to diffusing ‘Japanese best practices’, for the UK automotive manufacturing sector was heavily influenced by Japanese investment, particularly in the late 1980s. The research sites were collected with the intention to include a brownfield subsidiary, a greenfield subsidiary and a technical collaboration site in an effort to address the need to incorporate the social context in which organizational practices are embedded. Rover provided a good example of work systems diffusion whereby its claimed successful collaboration with Honda until 1995 created ‘centres of excellence’, or central specialism in the form of project teams that benefited from each other’s experience (see Faulkner,...

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