The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations
Show Less

The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations

Unity and Diversity

Edited by Bruce E. Kaufman

This volume contains country studies of the historical development of human resource management (HRM) in seventeen different nations. The nations span all regions of the world and each chapter is written by a national expert. Primary attention is given to HRM developments in industry, but university research and teaching are also covered. Human resource management is defined broadly to include industrial relations and each chapter places the historical development of HRM in a broad political, social, and economic context.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 12: The evolution of human resource management in Japan: continuity, change and enduring challenges

Jong-Won Woo


Human resource management (HRM) in Japan is commonly said to have evolved through four distinct historical stages. In chronological order they are: the familistic system before World War II; seniority-based system in the immediate post-World War II (WWII) years; merit system from the 1970s to the mid-late1980s; and performance-based system from the 1990s to today (Hazama 1964, Ujihara 1980, Mori 1989, Shirai 1992, Nakamura 2006). This categorization provides insight because it successfully identifies the defining feature of the Japanese HRM system in each time period. A full account, however, must also identify the key socio-economic factors that explain the origin and structure of these HRM systems and why each transitioned to the next. In other words, to understand the evolution of HRM in Japan the subject must be embedded in the larger context of the evolution of Japanese society and economy (Polanyi 1957; Granovetter 1985). Evaluation of the characteristics and performance of the Japanese HRM system is also historically and culturally contingent. When compared to the model used in industrialized western countries, for example, the Japan-style familistic system before WWII and the seniority-based/enterprise union system in the 1950s–1960s were often considered idio syncratic and peculiar to Japan, being characterized as underdeveloped (Okochi 1952, Fujita 1961). However, sentiment started to shift in the 1970s as Japan and other Asian Tiger economies began to challenge western nations.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.