Comparison between the Personnel Systems in Japanese and German Automotive Companies


1. Key Issues

The project focuses on the organisation and design of aspects of human resources management and development at Japanese and German manufacturers with the emphasis on Toyota and Volkswagen. Among the main aspects under study are the design of career systems, pay and incentive systems (especially with respect to Kaizen), performance appraisal, and further training.

2. Field and Focus of Research

Research is conducted at the levels of the central organisation and plants of the firms in Japan and Germany. Of particular interest are:

  • Task assignment/micro-hierarchy, human resources development at the team and group levels (with the focus on final assembly);
  • Recruitment, integration into the Toyota system, length of stay for engineers etc. in production, distribution, other training steps in the course of employment;
  • Pay and incentive systems, including performance appraisal procedures (especially with respect to Kaizen);
  • Typical career patterns by life phase, career interchange in terms of hierarchical structures, measures for older employees and those with a reduced capacity to work;
  • Role of the human resources department centralised/decentralised in managing the above processes;
  • Importance of standardisation in the field of human resources systems from the viewpoint of company headquarters.
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3. Methodology and Approach

The study is based on empirical surveys (mainly in the form of focused interviews with representatives of management and employees).

Project Management
Dr. Miriam M. Wilhelm
01.09.2008 - 30.06.2012
VW AutoUni
Cooperation partners
Prof. Keisuke Nakamura (University of Tokyo, Institute of Social Science) and Prof. Mitsuo Ishida, (Doshisha University, Kyoto).

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Globalisierung, Arbeit und Produktion (Leitung: Prof. Dr. Martin Krzywdzinski)

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