Overcoming the Ethnocentric Firm? - Foreign Fresh University Graduate Employment in Japan as a New International Human Resource Development Method
Harald Conrad (University of Sheffield)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses a new and distinct recruitment trend – the hiring of foreign fresh university graduates into Japanese multinational enterprises’ operations in Japan. Based on this, we propose a new conceptual framework to assess the viability of international personnel development methods.
Paper long abstract:
This paper analyses a new and, by international comparison, distinct recruitment trend – the systematic hiring of foreign fresh university graduates (FFGs) into Japanese multinational enterprises’ (MNEs) operations in Japan. Our explorative research, which is based on interviews with HR managers and FFGs, offers three major findings related to international HR development methods. Firstly, the inpatriate literature has identified the roles of foreign (subsidiary) staff as knowledge conduits and boundary-spanners between headquarters and subsidiaries. While such objectives do not drive Japan’s FFG hiring trend, we find similar challenges in terms of the absorptive capacities of headquarters. Secondly, following a Varieties-of-Capitalism perspective, we argue that FFG hiring is an institutional answer to the particularities of Japan’s employment system. Aiming at internationalizing headquarters from within, it contributes to resolving the internationalization conundrum of Japanese MNEs, but rather than overcoming the existing ethnocentric HR model it accommodates this orientation. Thirdly, we advance the general HR literature by proposing a new framework that addresses the viability of international personnel development methods in dependence of the workforce diversity and distinctiveness of employment practices in headquarters. We locate FFG hiring, inpatriation and self-initiated assignments within this framework.
Women and Foreign Workers in the Japanese Labour Market