Working Hours, Management, and Workers: What kinds of people in what kinds of companies feel their working hours are becoming longer?

Author Name MORISHIMA Motohiro  (Hitotsubashi University)
Creation Date/NO. February 2010 10-J-011
Download / Links


A question this paper seeks to answer is what kinds of people working in what kinds of companies felt their working hours were becoming longer in the early 2000s. For about 15 years after the economic bubble burst, Japanese companies implemented a number of management and human resource reforms. This period is also said to be the time when the idea of having a more autonomous relationship between organizations and employees took root as a concept. The paper examines how these management and human resource reforms and workers' newfound working style are linked to an increase in working hours, using data of questionnaires implemented in 2004 and 2005. The survey findings generated an image of those people who sensed an increase in their working hours as someone who:

1) Is opposed to the high turnover work relationships between companies and workers (as symbolized by companies with results-based systems and autonomous skill development) in favor of long-term career development opportunities, and

2) Works for a company that implements corporate governance reforms, with a focus on shareholder value, and strives to lower product prices and accelerate product development; and fully enforces human resource management practices in the workplace, as opposed to a wage system under a simple merit-based pay system.

They are, so to speak, workers who still highly value a career where advancement and a long-term employment relationship with the company are held in high regard, even though the company shifts its focus toward shareholder value and steps up workplace management by introducing measures such as cost cutting and faster operations. Working hours can be viewed as a phenomenon that occurs as a result of the efforts of a company's management and as a choice made by autonomous workers. It also appears that the elements mentioned above worked as factors to increase the overall working hours during this period.