This study analyses data on Japanese boards of directors for the period 1983-2001. It finds little evidence of change in most areas. Most Japanese executives are still men in their late 50s who have spent their entire career with their employer, or been parachuted in from a controlling firm. A major area of change, however, is the number of foreign board members. Foreign board members are, on average, considerably younger than average Japanese board members and are generally appointed with little or no prior tenure in the company. Most of the increase in foreign directors since 1984 has come in firms that have been listed since that time; those that were already listed in 1984 employ almost the same number of foreign directors now as they did then. Since firms with major foreign ownership have mostly employed foreign directors, their impact on the broader mass of Japanese firms has likely been limited. Increasing foreign ownership may be the most important vehicle for bringing fresh blood into Japanese boardrooms.
Short Introduction-Teri Jane Ursacki, Ph.D.
Teri received her MBA degree from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1982 and then spent four years working in import-export finance with the Bank of Nova Scotia. In 1986 she returned to UBC for her doctorate, writing her dissertation on the entry and expansion of foreign banks in Japan and Korea. She received her Ph.D., in 1991, and has been teaching international business at the University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business since 1990. Her first trip to Japan in 1982 for a summer job with the Toho Gas Company sparked an interest which has led to extensive research on Japan including Canada-Japan trade, the foreign banking sector, deregulation., executive promotion practices, corporate governance, ethical issues (particularly the sokaiya problem) and women in management. She has served as an executive in the Association of Japanese Business Studies and the Japanese Studies Association of Canada. Her current research focuses on the impact of inward foreign direct investment in Japan, particularly in the life insurance sector.