Employee Work Attitudes and Management Practice in the U.S. and Japan: Evidence from a Large Comparative Survey

by James Lincoln

Fall 1989

Volume 32
Issue 1

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This article provides a broad overview of findings from a survey of 106 Japanese and U.S. factories and 8,302 of their employees. Its focus is on how work attitudes and motivation differ between Japanese and U. S . employees and whether management practice and organizational design can account for those differences. The article concludes that practices such as quality circles, the ringi system, centralized authority combined with de facto participation, employee services, seniority compensation, and enterprise unions do, in fact, help to explain the "commitment gap" that divides the Japanese from the U.S. manufacturing workforce. When these and similar practices appear in U.S. factories, similar positive changes in employee work attitudes result.

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