Accepted paper:

Continuity or Change? Analysing the Recruitment and Career Patterns of Japanese Corporate Elites in an Era of Reform

Authors:

Jaok Kwon

Paper short abstract:

Through an analysis of the educational backgrounds and career patterns of Japanese corporate elites over the last three decades, this paper argues that the conventional cohesive recruitment and career system have been strengthened despite rapid globalization and deregulatory labour market reform.

Paper long abstract:

By focusing on the educational backgrounds and career patterns of Japanese corporate elites (CEOs) over the last three decades, this research suggests that the conventional recruitment and career system have been strengthened even in the face of rapid globalization and structural reform of the labour market. Studies on labour market reform have successfully revealed the deregulation process and resulting flexiblization of the labour market. This literature has mainly focused on the rapidly increasing prevalence of non-regular employment, a labour market polarized by gender and age, and examined the social consequences, including social inequality and stratification (kakusa shakai). Despite this expanding research on labour market reform, there has not been an examination of the effects on the upper levels of the labour market over the last three decades of neoliberal reforms. Has the globalization of the economy led to a fundamental change in the conventional cohesive recruitment and career pattern of economic elites? Has deregulatory labour market led to the strengthening of the global market recruitment system of the corporate elites? How does the career pattern differ among business sectors? This research indicates that first, in Japan where heterogeneity in the educational background of corporate elites has slightly increased, national educational institutions continue to be a molding system for the CEO. Next, despite Japan's rapidly globalizing economy and structural reform, the seniority system and lifetime commitment for corporate elites has actually been reinforced. Surprisingly, this tendency is even stronger for the industrial sector, which has been considered to be a pioneer for globalization in the Japanese economy. This research provides insight into understanding the transformations and continuities of corporate governance in Japan in relation to decades of significant reform.

panel S6_10
Employment, labour markets and career structures