11 February 2006 (Sat), GRIPS Campus in Tokyo 14:00-17:00
"Human Resource Development in East Asia and Transferability
of the Japanese Management Style, with special focus on Vietnam"

Prof. Yoshiyaki Takahashi
(Department of Commerce, Chuo University, Tokyo)


Among many studies on human resource development and management, Prof. Takahashi selected some of them with special focus on Vietnam - a country of his research interest - to present in this workshop.

Beginning the presentation with the theoretical framework on management transfers, Prof. Takahashi showed that there were various issues needed to be considered in transferring management style from developed countries to the developing ones. Within the framework, he particularly analyzed one of the most determinant factors, i.e. the local culture, and its influences on the transferability of management style. Based on the definition of culture by Adler (1991), he listed three culture-related factors in transferring business management style: (i) the cultural structure, which indicates value systems, customs, thought, and behaviour patterns of the members of a certain group, (ii) the interaction between culture and economic processes, in which diversity of culture plays an important role in economic activities, and (iii) type of organizations, specifically business culture, which shows the awareness and sense of values of workers and managers in a regional value system, and the aims and values of the enterprise. Those factors mutually influence each other to setup various management styles with many characteristics.

In addition to the theoretical framework, Prof. Takahashi presented some results from the surveys conducted by himself and his colleagues to see the transferability of Japanese management style to Vietnamese in Japanese enterprises in Vietnam. It was shown that the transferability levels depended upon the business plans and strategies of those surveyed enterprises. For instance, the management knowledge was transferred in different ways in manufacturing and service-related enterprises, in which the former showed stronger trends than that of the latter. The results of those surveys also supported that cultural differences and similarities played significant roles in the ways and styles of transferring management knowledge from Japanese to Vietnamese, both managers and workers. He additionally emphasized that the changes and development of labour market, educational system, among others, had also been contributing significantly to Vietnamese people’s working attitude and adaptability, particularly in highly competitive enterprises, including Japanese ones.

The discussion section started by Mr. Anh (PhD student of Yokohama National University) with the questions on the surveys, particularly categories of survey questionnaires. In response, Prof. Takahashi described briefly his surveys since different business fields needed different questionnaires and targets.

Agreeing with Prof. Takahashi that there would be many things to consider in transferring management style since each country had its own characteristics, and even in different economic sector within a country, Prof. Kenichi Ohno raised his question about the most dominant factors in the process in Vietnam. Answering this question, Prof. Takahashi firstly emphasized that the number of enterprises in the surveys was small in comparison with the current Japanese firms in Vietnam so that they might not be representative for the conclusion of the most important factors. However, based on those surveys, he thought that the substantial changes in labour markets with increasing number of trained and skilled workers had been significantly affecting the process.

There was a number of questions on the development labour market on working choices, particularly young Vietnamese as the participants believed that it would be one of the significant factors to determine the relationship between managers and workers once they chose to work for Japanese firms. Sharing the same ideas as Mr. Khai (YNU), Mr. Nakamura (University of Tokyo, and ADYF) questioned about the trends of choosing jobs of young people in developing countries, including Vietnam since they would have strong impacts on their movements (between jobs), which might not be appropriate with Japanese firms who liked long-term relationship. In addition, Ms. Hai (PhD student, Waseda University) asked about the relation between specialization and current jobs of young Vietnamese, and how was the role of educational system in matching them.

Responding those questions, Prof. Takahashi gave some examples of Japanese firms in Japan and Vietnam to show that various issues determining those relations such as training process, gender consideration, and business fields. Prof. Ohno also added that those issues depended on the firm structure, e.g. modular vs. integral, so that they would have different strategies with active labour market. To show the details, Mr. Mori (VDF) illustrated with the differences between the US and Japanese firms in transferring knowledge, in which the former based on manuals, while the latter based on direct teaching.

Based on Prof. Takahashi’s analysis on the management style of Japanese firms, Mr. Dung (Chuo University) questioned about how it would be in the future since the regional and global economies would be more integrated, in which China became an important economy, and how Japanese firms and universities would cooperate with each other to deal with those factors. Prof. Takahashi, in his response, analyzed advantages and drawbacks of the seniority-based salary system in Japan, and he thought that Japanese firms would adjust their systems to keep competitiveness, particularly their affiliates in regional countries. However, Prof. Ohno thought that Japanese firms might change marginally to adapt with special situations, and they could keep their core business strategies without losing competitiveness.

Mentioning that the presentation and discussion only focused on management style of the Japanese manufacturing and service firms and their transferability to the developing countries, Ms. Junko Noguchi (FASID) raised a question about management style of the Japanese governmental organizations. Prof. Takahashi said that there would be many differences in those organizations due to their different characteristics, and he thought that it would be an interesting research topic to pursue.

(By Giang Thanh Long)

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