Shifting Boundaries of the Firm: Japanese Company - Japanese Labour

By Sako, Mari

All firms wrestle with restructuring that involves consolidation through mergers and acquisitions on the one hand, and fragmentation through outsourcing and spin-offs on the other. Corporate restructuring is a major driver in transforming labour markets, engendering concerns about employment security. The framework introduced in this book analyses shifting organizational boundaries, i.e., structural changes within corporations resulting from a series of strategic interplays between management and labour unions. This framework is used to investigate the symbiotic adjustments in firm and union boundaries in the automobile and electronics industries in Japan. The book draws upon interview and survey evidence to show how the strategic interplay between labour and management led to incremental changes in Japan's national institutions, including lifetime employment, coordinated wage bargaining, and enterprise union networks. The gradual introduction of diversity and flexibility in markets is thus linked directly to the role management and labour played in bringing about institutional change. The book also demonstrates that adding labour to the Chandlerian analysis of corporate strategy and structure leads us to a view that boundary decisions are often contested.

Table of Content:


1. Strategy, Structure, and Institutions of Management and Labour

2. From Factory to Enterprise, from Enterprise to Business Group

3. Strategy and Structure at Matsushita Group

4. Strategy and Structure at Toyota Group

5. Inter-Industry Differences: Criteria for Union Boundary Decisions

6. Intra-Industry Differences I: Why Companies Differ

7. Intra-Industry Differences II: Why Unions Differ

8. Harmonization versus Differentiation, Employment Security versus Labour Flexibility

Conclusions Taking Stock and Looking Ahead


Available at:

  • Osagyefo Library