Here to stay? An investigative look at the state of the Lifetime Employment system i Japan
This thesis deals with a phenomenon known as the Lifetime employment system, which is present in Japan. The system means that Japanese workers (mainly male university graduates) remain in the same company from when they are newly graduated until they retire. The workers are given a feeling of job security and the companies, in turn can reap the rewards of having a stable, loyal workforce. The system has, traditionally had a very strong support in Japan but this thesis aims to create an idea of how the support has changed due to recent financial difficulties related to a recession in Japan, the global financial crisis etc. Does the Lifetime employment system still have a strong approval, despite that the idea of long-term employment could be considered to be a lot more problematic in today's more turbulent economic climate? Furthermore, by getting an idea of how the system exists today, it is also possible to attain some impression of what the future holds for the system. In order to achieve the goal of the thesis, empirical data has been collected, both primary and secondary. The primary data is a questionnaire study, conducted in Osaka during the summer of 2009, as well as interviews with two students who will son graduate university. The secondary data is two questionnaire studies conducted by outside parties. When analyzing this data, two theoretical frameworks were used. The first one is the theory about the Social construction of reality, as described by Berger and Luckman in their book The Social Construction of Reality. A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. The second theory is the Anglo-Saxon/Japanese model, defined by Ronald Dore, in his book Stock Market capitalism: welfare Capitalism: Japan and Germany versus the Anglo-Saxons. Dore's model defines two opposite management cultures, the Japanese and the Anglo-Saxon. At the time the book was written, Dore stated that Japan was slowly but steadily shifting over to the Anglo-Saxon way of thinking. In looking at the empirical data, it is possible to determine if Japan remains at the Japanese side. For example, if there is presently not an evident support for Lifetime employment, then that would allude to the fact that there has been a shift. Also, the Berger and Luckman theory can be used to determine possible underlying factors that have caused the present Japanese management culture. By analyzing the empirical data, we found that there still appears to be a strong support of the system in Japan. This point to that Japan has not experienced a shift over to the Anglo-Saxon point of view, at least not yet. In fact, the data seems to imply that the system's support has in fact increased over the last years. This could mean that the recent financial woes has not caused people to abandon the troubled the system, but instead embrace it more.