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Human Ressources Management

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Comparative HRM
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Collectivism versus Individualism, the selection models in Japan and United-Kingdom.
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Human Resource Management is the function within an organization that focuses on
the recruitment of, management of, and providing direction for the people who work in an
organization. All of the processes and programs that are touched by people are part of the
human resources in an organization (S. Heatfield, 2016). We can distinguish two types of
human resource management the soft and the hard. We will focus on one practice of the soft
part: the selection differences between Japan and the United-Kingdom.”
Japan is one of the most powerful countries in the economic world order. We often consider
Japanese management as mysterious and original because of its effectiveness and uniqueness
across the world. Nevertheless, the country has been strongly hit by the financial crisis in
2008 but also by natural disasters in 2011. In this study we will focus on the particularities
regarding the selection methods and criteria. Then we will analyse the Japanese model of
recruitment and critically discuss how the financial crisis of 2008 impacted the Japanese
human resource management.
On the other hand, we will compare Japan to the United-Kingdom, one of the strongest
countries in Europe. British human resources management really reflects the Anglo-Saxon
model; we can clearly feel the occidental roots of their management. We will clearly focus on
their selection methods and recruitment process as well.
Through time, Japanese corporations have had to review their human resources
management because of historic and economics change in their political and economic
landscape. We also have to notice the aging demography of Japan, which leads to a high
number of, retired workers each year, and young employees quitting their jobs as well. This
phenomenon is one of the explanations of the full employment status in Japan (average of 3%
of unemployment rate). Yet, the financial crisis of 2008 and the natural disasters in 2011 as
well, really impacted Japan and forced the corporations to modify their way to run companies
but also to review their famous and particular selection process. We will start with the
selection criteria and the different selection methods then we will focus about the recruitment
practices in the XXIst century.
In Japan the companies consider that the candidate’s potential is based on the merit of
its education in a way to get the best talented employees. There is no universal way to select
the candidates, each company as its own way of functioning. Yet, the most common practices
remain the personal skills, the teamwork spirit and the interpersonal skills. The attitude and
the personality are as important as the level of education, even if the university degree is
undeniably necessary. The recruitment system starts in April, were the graduates have to
choose the different vacancies available. At the early summer, the candidates have their first
announcements (Singh, 2017). Then, the candidate is in a relation with the company and will
have to realise an application following several interviews, written exams, medical checks...
The final decision of the company is released in Fall (companies give the answer the earliest
possible so that the most competitive candidates don’t go anywhere). After the acceptance,
the candidate has to do a written promise to the company and will start his new job in April
(The 1st of April) after the graduation. Students graduating from the leading universities are
practically taken as a guarantee for the applicant’s overall acceptability (Gallagher and Marsh,
Trust and personal relationships are two of the most important criteria according to the
Japanese corporations. The Japanese employees have to know how to work with few
explanations but on the other hand, with a lot of cooperation. The team working and the
personal attitude is also an important factor in the selection criteria, the Companies and
candidates believe in long-term employment and in lifetime careers (Singh, 2017). In most of
the companies, there are no written contracts between the employee and the company,
because their relation is focused on trust and loyalty. Job security and loyalty is there among
the employees. According to Dillon, L.S. 1990 “workers in Japanese companies rotate among
departments to learn overall operations. This increase loyalty to the organization”. There
exists teamwork and fair treatment in the organization. Success lies in „we feel‟, „us‟.
Japanese believe in creating a family like atmosphere and comfortable working in teams
rather than performing individually. According to the Geert Hofstede’s (1980) research, japan
is a country that value group more than the individual and tends to avoid uncertainty and seek
comfort in known situations and groups. Japanese score very high on masculinity. They give
importance to the performance of the team not to the performance of Individual. Leading
companies like Maruti Suzuki, Hitachi in India is very successful due to their unique system
of Japanese management practice (Singh, 2017).
The roots of the Japanese recruitment practices come from the 70s and the 80s, at that
time Japan has developed a particular and unique way to recruit and select the employees.
Recruitment and selection in Japan is systemic and well organised and seems to be scheduled.
This particular recruitment process is made over a year and is called “aotagai” which means
buying corn before it is harvested because the students are hired before their graduation.
Students who attended prestigious universities or Business Schools can pretend to core
vacancies. The different features preferred by the companies as selection criteria are the
personality, the motivation and the communications skills (Huo, Huang and Napier, 2002).
Yet, everything depends on the field of activity, indeed in the social science area is an
exception because the experience is more valuable than the personality skills. The other
exception regards the natural science field, where the professors recommend the students to
different companies or institutions (Huo, Huang and Napier, 2002).
The “aotagai” process starts in April when the student accomplishes its 4th year of university.
During the year, the student will have to attend several interviews and written tests. Like in
the Anglo-Saxon countries, the interview is one of the most step in the recruiting and
selection process. During the interview, the graduated learn more about the different missions,
tasks, corporate’s culture or even about the different place location. After a positive interview
an “advance agreement” is contracted between the recruiters and the candidates, this system is
still occurring nowadays (Pudelko, 2004).
In the 90s, the Japanese economy went into a long recession and this modified deeply the
human resources process of recruitment and selection. In a way to reduce the costs and to face
the recession, the Japanese corporations has to cut the labour costs, indeed the companies had
to hire more part-time employees and reduce the number of full time workers and employees.
Long ago, the students accessed to generalist jobs because of a lack of choice, indeed
there were no diversity or variety of accessible jobs. These employees were constrained to
take part to various departments in various places across the country each year, yet, some
companies allowed the students to choose in which department and location they wanted to
work. Today, the graduates have the choice, per example the corporation Matsushita
Electronics bids 16 different types of vacancies, in some companies the applicants can even
draw a list of their preferences for their first job.
The aim of letting the choice to the applicants was to attract the most qualified students across
Japan (Pudelko, 2004).
Nowadays, more and more corporations allow the new recruits to work in the city of
their choice, in the past it was only limited to some industries (i.e. female employees in retail
stores). Today it is a common way of working and especially in the bank industries like
Mizuho and Mitsubishi Tokyo. On the other hand, more and more companies (More than
60%) are recruiting University graduates who quitted their position after few years of work.
These graduated are called “dainisotsugyosha” which actually means, “Second graduate”; it
means that they have already worked within a minimum of 3 years (Pudelko, 2006). These
second graduates have the particularity to ally and mix their personal skills and their
experience as well. We name this phenomenon as an “Americanisation” of their selection
process because of the new importance of the experience. Indeed, a survey emphasises that
MNCs consider these second graduates are more valuable because of their fresh and recent
experience because these graduates have already done a step in the world work (Pudelko,
2004). This concept is a real change in the Japanese society and in the human resource
management, before; getting a job in a large company after graduation was seen as a once in a
lifetime chance.
Due to the financial crisis, the corporations decided to review their way to recruit and
select the candidates. Indeed since 2011, some corporations as Toyota and Takeda
Pharmaceutical have also started to consider candidates up to three years after they have
graduated. This allows the Japanese students to develop themselves during these 3 years and
have different experiences in foreign countries and learn different skills before coming back
to Japan. Moreover, globalization has also its effects on Japan, because more and more
Japanese corporations start to hire international applicants to diversify their companies and
this became a necessity (Singh, 2017). Japanese human resources recruiters do not
differentiate the Japanese from the foreign applicants; their selection criterion and the
recruiting methods remain the same. The Japanese corporations want the expatriates to learn
and return to their home country in management positions with Japanese skills and a Japanese
style of management (Waxin, Barmeyer and Brewster, 2008) .
Japan has a unique model of human resources management, yet the Korean one takes
its inspiration of the Japanese model even if the competitiveness in Korea is higher. Japan has
its own recruitment process, and also own selection criteria, which really differ from the
Anglo-Saxon model. Yet, a new trend occurs in Japan and especially in the human resources
management. This phenomenon can be named as “The Americanisation of human resources
management” indeed; the Japanese companies tend to copy the Anglo-Saxon model of
recruitment and selection. Moreover, Japan has shown its envy to globalize its companies,
with recruiting foreign students after their graduation. This concept has also the aim to extend
the Japanese culture in International management and export the Japanese methods and
theories. Now let’s turn to the British model of selection in the human resources context.
“The main elements in the design and validation of personnel selection procedures
have been in place for many years. The role of job analysis, contemporary models of work
performance and criteria are reviewed critically. After identifying some important issues and
reviewing research work on attracting applicants, including applicant perceptions of personnel
selection processes, the research on major personnel selection methods is reviewed. Recent
work on cognitive ability has confirmed the good criterion-related validity, but problems of
adverse impact remain. Work on personality is progressing beyond studies designed simply to
explore the criterion-related validity of personality. Interview and assessment centre research
is reviewed, and recent studies indicating the key constructs measured by both are discussed.
In both cases, one of the key constructs measured seems to be generally cognitive ability. Bio
data validity and the processes used to develop bio data instruments are also critically
reviewed. The article concludes with a critical evaluation of the processes for obtaining
validity evidence (primarily from meta-analyses) and the limitations of the current state of the
art. Speculative future prospects are bravely reviewed.”
“One of the last stages in recruitment and selection is selection itself, which includes
the choice of methods by which an employer reduces a short-listed group following the
recruitment stage, leading to an employment decision.
For most people, this is the only visible stage of the resourcing cycle because their experience
of it is likely to be as a subject – or candidate – rather than involvement in planning the entire
process. While recruitment can be perceived as a positive activity generating an optimum
number of job seekers, selection is inherently negative in that it will probably involve
rejection of applicants (Budhwar and Khatri, 2001).
It would be prudent to argue that selection decisions should be based on a range of selection
tools as some have poor predictive job ability. While it is almost inconceivable that
employment would be offered or accepted without a face-to-face encounter, many
organisations still rely almost exclusively on the outcome of interviews to make selection
decisions (Budhwar and Khatri, 2001).
To have any value, interviews should be conducted or supervised by trained individuals, be
structured to follow a previously agreed set of questions mirroring the person specification or
job profile, and allow candidates the opportunity to ask questions (Edenborough, 2005). The
interview is more than a selection device. It is a mechanism that is capable of communicating
information about the job and the organisation to the candidate, with the aim of giving a
realistic job preview, providing information about the process, and thus can minimise the risk
of job offers being rejected. Organisations seeking high performance in their selection
processes should therefore give considerable attention to maximising the uses of the interview
and, ideally, combine this method with other psychometric measures where appropriate
(Edenborough, 2005) .
“The next stage in the recruitment cycle is the attraction of candidates, as one
important objective of a recruitment method is to produce an appropriate number of suitable
candidates within reasonable cost constraints. (Lazaridous 2006) note that ‘There is no ideal
number of applications and no intrinsic value in attracting a high volume of candidates.’
Neither is there a single best way to recruit applicants. Rather the chosen recruitment medium
needs to ensure that there are a sufficient number of suitably qualified candidates from which
to make a selection without being overwhelmed with large numbers of unsuitable applications
(Waxin, Barmeyer and Brewster, 2008). Using a recruitment agency to find a small number of
suitable candidates, particularly for senior or specialised posts, may prove a significantly
more cost-effective and efficient method than a major advertising campaign, which generates
a large response from unsuitable candidates (Broughton and Foley, 2017). The Choice of
method will also be influenced by the availability of candidates – that is, is there likely to be a
shortage or surplus of candidates? For example, in the period around 2005 there was a large
pool of Polish migrant workers wanting to work in Britain, but within four or five years this
had significantly diminished as employers found some applicants were being more selective,
while other potential Polish workers had returned home after the financial and economic crisis
took hold in the UK after 2008 (T. Robertson and Smith, 2001).”
“According to the research of Hofstede’s (1980), the U.K ranked highest of the
individualistic score beaten only be some of the countries like Australia and the U.S.A.
People are highly individualistic and private people. U.K is also grouped with those countries
that accepted high degree of uncertainty and risk. They possess high degree of masculinity but
less than that of Japan and also low power distance (T. Robertson and Smith, 2001) . U.K
firms make use of walk-in applicants, advertising, and public employment agencies. Firm
uses newspaper, magazines to advertise the vacancies. Also they make use of technology i.e.
Internet to advertise the vacancies (Broughton and Foley, 2017). Most utilized selection
sources are interviews, application blank and reference check. Large organizations take
students from renowned universities and business schools. Companies conduct written tests
also to find out the candidates aptitude, personality and problem solving skill. Past experience
of the candidate is also of supreme importance. Both internal and external recruitment is done
in the organizations like through the reference of the existing employee and through
newspaper advertisement. Interviews are taken and conducted by the members of HR
department and three to four rounds of interview takes place (T. Robertson and Smith, 2001).
Qualification should match with the job requirement and in some cases work experience also
matters. They pay very little attention to the actual subject studied. People in U.K give lot of
importance to the value of work and also time. Time is money and it should not be wasted
rather they treat it as an economic resource. There is a feeling sometimes that their life is
rushed. It is considered very impolite to arrive late at office as well as for business meetings.
There exists fairness and transparency in business transactions and also there is lot of
independence as well as freedom to express also exists (T. Robertson and Smith, 2001). They
like that everything is being told to them in terms of the performance, which is expected out
of them and also the deadline of the work. They are very particular about the work and are
very positive about it. They are giving importance to the older generation as the work force is
getting older and the percentage of employees under the age of thirty-five is decreasing. One
of the reasons for this is the improved health and medical care, which is helping them to live
longer. Concept of lifetime employment does not exist in the organization.”
“After studying the recruitment and selection practices in the selected countries, Japan
and U.K it has been concluded that the countries are different from each other on the basis of
cultural dimensions. The value system and beliefs differs significantly. Culture of the
respective countries shapes the path in which procedures and practices are undertaken. The
Japanese culture has a lot of influences in the human resources management. Indeed, their
rigor, their teamwork skills, and serieusity is a common point between the Japanese society
and the Japanese companies. On the other hand, we can easily deduct that UK firms follow
the occidental and Anglo-Saxon model, where individualism seems to be more important the
collectivism, the British way of recruitment and selection is close to the United-States way of
managing human resources.
There are number of differences between the Asian and European work forces. While the
workers in the Europe prefer to work independently, on the other hand Asian workers seeks a
sense of belongingness and feel more proud in their organization than in their individual job.
Moreover, Japanese companies are rather focused on internal recruitment based on merit and
personal skills; indeed, junior managers have high chances to become senior managers in the
same company. On the other hand, British companies follow the Anglo-Saxon model and
prefer to recruit externally. In other terms, a British firm will prefer to hire an external senior
manager rather than upgrade an actual junior manager.
Companies in Asia are now giving emphasis on recruitment, selection and retention practices
so to make the employees happy and contended. The result of this study suggested that
cultural values in a specific culture and recruitment practices are not static. It can be changed
over time. The success of Japanese organization lies in their unique style of managing.”
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Britain and India. International Journal of Human Resource Management,
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Edenborough, R. (2005). Assessment methods in recruitment, selection, and
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Gallagher, M. and Marsh, M. (1998). Candidate selection in comparative
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Huo, Y., Huang, H. and Napier, N. (2002). Divergence or Convergence: A
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humaines internationales. 1st ed. Rueil-Malmaison: Éd. Liaisons.