Research on change in Japanese employment institutions tends to focus on the persistence of traditional arrangements, ignoring developments in new sectors and new forms of employment. In this presentation the future of employment in Japan is approached from the perspective of the expansion of temporary work. The recent deregulation of temporary work and the entry of temporary help firms into new fields of personnel services are placed in the context of changes in a range of complementary arrangements which have shaped the Japanese employment regime -- union participation in labour policy-making, a labour-market structure favouring regular employment, and inter-firm relations in the form of corporate alliances. The research is based on a project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft comparing employment liberalisation in Japan and Germany.
Karen Shire is Professor of Sociology and Japanese Society in the Institute of East Asian Studies and the Institute of Sociology, Universität Duisburg-Essen. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her recent publications include Japan: Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft, Politik (with P. Kevenhörster and W. Pascha), On the Front-Line: Organization of Work in the Information Economy (with S. Frenkel, M. Korczynski, M. Tam) and the co-editing of Re-Organising Service Work (with U. Holtgrewe and Christian Kerst). Her research interests include comparative institutional analysis, the re-organisation of work, especially information- and knowledge-intensive work, virtual and network organisations, changes in employment institutions and the transition from a domestic to a public gender regime in advanced economies.