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The Japanese employee management system

The Japanese employee management system

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The Japanese employee management system

The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Human Resources Management Professional Certification program.

By the 1950s, Japan was in the midst of war. However, in less than 30 years it became an economic giant and ranked second in the world. This draws the attention of scientists and specialists to the Japanese model of management.

  1. Western management is characterized by:

Comparative analysis of Western and Japanese management points out the following differences.

Western management is characterized by:

  • Individual decision-making process.
  • Individual responsibility.
  • Precisely formulated management structure.
  • Linking salary and career with individual results.
  • Training of narrowly specialized experts.
  • Formal relations between managers and subordinates.
  • Easy and frequent transfer from one company to another.

The analysis of the Japanese management system shows significant differences in its business principles.

There is lifetime employment in Japan. Moving from one company to another is very rare and not well accepted. This leads to the stability of the composition of companies and their divisions. Favorable preconditions are created for the emergence of informal relationships and connections. 

This reflects on the following outcomes:

  • Collective responsibility
  • Group forms of control
  • Informal relationships
  • A priority of group achievements.

Collective methods are preferred in decision-making processes.

A consensus is preferred when making a decision, although the procedure for reaching consensus may take time.

The selection, evaluation, and promotion of staff in the Japanese model are also specific. Young employees entering Japanese companies are not required to have prior professional training.

Employees must go through all the positions at the lowest hierarchical level before starting to climb the hierarchical ladder. The employee is strictly observed. 

An employee with a lower position can’t take the place of his/her superior until he/she has been appointed to a higher position.

BVOP recommends for the staff to explore the possibilities of the following approaches:

  • A long-term career in one organization.
  • A slower process of professional growth.
  • Making team decisions by consensus.
  • Achieving a high degree of trust between employees.
  • Constant care for the people in the organization.

Comments from the BVOP™ community on “The Japanese employee management system”


Japan's transformation from a war-torn country to an economic powerhouse in less than 30 years caught the attention of scientists and specialists. A comparative analysis of Western and Japanese management reveals significant differences. Western management emphasizes individual decision-making, responsibility, formal relations, and easy job transfers. In contrast, Japanese management values lifetime employment, stability, informal relationships, and group achievements. These principles lead to collective responsibility, group forms of control, and a priority on group achievements.

Collective decision-making is preferred and the consensus is the goal, even if it takes time. In Japanese companies, young employees start at the bottom and work their way up without prior training. BVOP suggests a long-term career, slow professional growth, consensus-based team decisions, trust among employees, and caring for the people in the organization.

Comments on “The Japanese employee management system”

  1. Alexander Jonas

    What are some of the key principles and practices of the Japanese employee management system, and how do they differ from traditional Western approaches to HR management?

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