chapter  1
8 Pages

Challenges of human resource management in Japan: An introduction

ByRALF BEBENROTH, TOSHIHIRO KANAI

The late 1980s showed Japanese firms emerging as not only globally competitive but superior performers. Many of them were leaders in their industries, “challenging” other countries’ firms with a Japanese model consisting of techniques such as total quality management, lean manufacturing, kaizen (continuous improvement), and the kanban system (just-in-time production). At that time, Japan received high scholarly interest from all around the world (Doz, Santos, and Williamson 2001). Researchers looked at Japanese firms to see how to organize and manage effective and efficient production facilities. Beyond the production process academics and practitioners from both Western and Asian countries were interested in the common organizational characteristics of Japanese firms, such as keiretsu business groups (Whitley 1996, Budhwar 2004).