I’ve been wondering for a while whether Japanese employees of companies such as Sharp or Takata have been feeling any change in corporate culture since being acquired by Taiwanese or Chinese companies and whether those companies could still be considered to be “Japanese”.
Nikkei Business has inteviewed employees from Sharp, Toshiba memory division and also from the laptop division of NEC (now owned by Lenovo) and come up with 13 aspects that have caused difficulties for Japanese employees who have been “bought” (as the Nikkei puts it) and 7 positive effects.
1. Having to work much harder than before – due to increasing focus on short term profitability – even longer hours than is the norm in Japan.
2. Loss of right to evaluate staff – a sense that Taiwan HQ is now in charge of career development
3. Increase in employees who have a “Taiwan First” mindset
“If you don’t like doing things the Hon Hai way, then start your own business, or go and work for Nidec or Panasonic. If you can’t do that, then suck it up, seems to be their attitude” says one employee.
4. Rigid management by numbers
5. English skills are now compulsory
6. Nemawashi (stakeholder management/consensus) no longer works
7. Large cuts in salary
8. Reduction in autonomy
9. Sudden changes in supplier relationships
10. Reduction in management positions
11. Being posted to unwelcome locations
12. Collapse of succession planning
13. Low capability managers being seconded to your company
Some of the above could happen to any acquired company in any country, but I guess 1, 4, 5, and 6 are particularly acutely felt for Japanese companies acquired by foreign companies.
Some employees saw an upside however:
1. Structural problems are removed
2. Disappearance of bullying bosses
3. Job becomes more fulfilling
4. “Rags to riches” when previously your career history or educational record counted against you
5. Increased salary
6. Improved credit rating
7. More opportunities for promotion
Again many of these are the result of issues arising from having worked for a failing company, and now being owned by a more successful one – but I can see that for many Japanese who were stuck – with their careers blocked by bullying bosses, or considered lower status because of not being a lifetime employee since graduation or not coming from a top university – it is refreshing to be evaluated and promoted purely on ability.
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