Dear AIB members,

The Japan Academy of Multinational Enterprises is pleased to announce that the latest issue of the Japan MNE Insights newsletter, Volume 6, Issue 2, is now available online in PDF format (
This issue includes two special essays, and we would like to share their summaries with you.

By Harald Conrad and Hendrik Meyer-Ohle, "Human Resource Departments in Japanese MNCs: Exploring the Black Box"

Synopsis: We came to this research topic after conducting a study on the recruitment of non-Japanese fresh university graduates into the headquarters of Japanese corporations. As both of us are teaching at universities outside of Japan, we were surprised to see an increasing trend of our graduates being recruited not only into Japanese companies in Britain or Singapore, but also increasingly into headquarters in Japan. We thought that researching this trend was not only an opportunity to look at changes in human resource management in Japan, but would also enable us to advise and prepare our students better for work in Japanese companies. We thus conducted an interview study with young non-Japanese employees working for Japanese corporations in Japan, the HR sections of Japanese companies and finally the agents involved in the actual recruitment processes (Conrad and Meyer-Ohle, 2019; Conrad and Meyer-Ohle, forthcoming 2020). Talking to representatives of HR sections, we realized that we had quite a good understanding of the HR policies and practices of Japanese corporations, but were clearly lacking an understanding of the roles and capabilities of HR departments. For example, we had assumed that being in charge of recruitment and being involved in the allocation and rotation of employees, HR departments would carry some weight of their own in Japanese corporations. However, we found HR departments facing resistance when placing international recruits into operational units to fulfil requests by board members. We also sensed that some HR policies of companies were not probably implemented, with our informants regarding their work in human resources rather as a transitional period than a long-term professional career. We therefore set out to understand better the position and roles of Japanese HR departments through an explorative interview study with HR representatives of 37 mostly large, established Japanese MNCs.

By Tomokazu Seki, “Do Domestic R&D Activities Impact Those Overseas? : Analysis of Productivity Changes and Globalization in Japan's Manufacturing Industry”

Synopsis: Japanese business enterprises reported a significant decline in R&D expenditures following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. According to the Survey of Research and Development conducted by the Statistics Bureau of Japan, R&D expenditure recovered to pre-crisis levels in FY 2019 and has reached 14,232 billion yen. However, concerns about the expenditure levels have recently re-emerged because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During April–June 2020, the preliminary real GDP figures decreased by an annualized 27.8% from the previous quarter, which is the largest drop since 1955, when GDP statistics were made available in Japan. In addition to Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany report a significant decline in their GDP levels. To survive this economic downturn, Japanese companies are exploring new ways to improve productivity while utilizing limited resources and rare opportunities. One such solution is an integrated system of manufacturing and sales that leverages data and digital technology, also known as digital transformation (DX). With the objective of exploring the first step to sales and production, R&D activities, this study conducts an R&D productivity analysis on Japan’s manufacturing industry. The results can help understand not only domestic but also overseas R&D activities since increased productivity in local R&D activities can positively affect those overseas. The Survey on Overseas Business Activities conducted by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry reports a recent upward trend in the ratio of overseas R&D expenditures to overall R&D in the Japanese manufacturing industry. Such progress in overseas R&D activities can be viewed as an extension of advancements in domestic R&D activities. This study focuses on the R&D intensity, the trade specification index (TSI) for technology, labor productivity, and the ratio of researchers are associated with the ratio of overseas R&D expenditures in the manufacturing industry. In conclusion, improved productivity in domestic R&D activities may positively affect overseas R&D activities.

We hope you find the essays interesting and share them with your colleagues.
If you have any comments or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact us.

With kind regards,

Dr. Tamiko Kasahara

Editorial member of Japan MNE Insights

Tamiko Kasahara (Ph.D.)

University of Shizuoka, School of Management and Information
52-1 Yada, Suruga-ku, Shizuoka, 422-8526, Japan
TEL/FAX:+81-54-264-5435 (direct)
E-mail :[log in to unmask]   

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