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Shifting Boundaries of the Firm

All firms wrestle with restructuring, involving consolidation of mergers and acquisitions on the one hand, and fragmentation through outsourcing and spin-offs on the other. Through an in-depth investigation into the organizational strategies of Japanese corporate management and union leaders in Japan, Mari Sako explores the issue of 'organizational boundaries' that arises from such restructuring. Examining the strategy and structure of both businesses and trade unions, the book draws upon empirical evidence drawn from interviews conducted at Toyota and Matsushita and their respective unions. It examines their respective strategies in coping with organizational boundaries against the backdrop of changing labour markets, and, in the process, challenges widely held notions about Japanese corporate and union structures. Mari Sako goes on to explore the implications of these relationships in other advanced industrial countries for corporate restructuring, jobs, and labour market flexibility.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction ; 1. Strategy, Structure, and Institutions of Management and Labour ; 2. From Factory to Enterprise, from Enterprise to Corporate Group ; 3. Strategy and Structure at Matsushita Group ; 4. Strategy and Structure at Toyota Group ; 5. Inter-Industry Differences: Criteria fro Union Boundary Decisions ; 6. Intra-Industry Differences I: Why Companies Differ ; 7. Intra-Industry Differencesx II: Why Unions Differ ; 8. Harmonization vs. Differentiation, Employment Security vs. Labour Flexibility ; Conclusions ; Appendix: List of Interviews

About the Author

Mari Sako is Professor of International Business at the Said Business School, University of Oxford. An international expert on Japanese business, she has published widely on the issues of global coroporate strategy, comparative business systems, and human resource management. Her recent books include Are Skills the Answer? The Political Economy of Skill Creation in Advanced Industrial Countries (with Colin Crouch and Donald Finegold, OUP, 1999) and Japanese Labour and Management in Transition: Diversity, Flexibilyt and Participation (edited with Hiroki Sato, Routledge, 1997).


This is the book we have been waiting for to understand how the Japanese employment system has adjusted to its decade of trauma. By carefully documenting the symbiotic adjustments of firm and union boundaries, Mari Sako shows how Japanese institutions have decentralized and introduced greater variation in employment conditions while struggling to preserve basic principles of employment security, coordinated wage adjustments, and networked unions. Shifting Boundaries will quickly become the classic reference on industrial adjustment in Japan and set the standard for those who study this issue in other countries * Thomas A. Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations, MIT Sloan School of Management * Blending economic and sociological analysis, Sako updates our understanding of what is happening today inside Japan's corporations and labor unions. This fascinating book is required reading for anyone interested in modern Japan or the varieties of capitalism that exist in our global world. * Sanford M. Jacoby, author, The Embedded Corporation, and Professor of Management, UCLA. *

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