Department of Research on the Staffing Industry
In April, 2004, the Institute
of Social Science at the University of Tokyo established the Department
of Research on the Staffing Industry, which will remain at the Institute
for a three-year term. This department is a privately-sponsored research
department, funded by an endowment from Staff Service Holdings Co., Ltd.
The purpose of this department is to conduct theoretical and empirical
research on the state of affairs and the problems of personnel management
in Japanese industry in general, as well as the management strategies,
current conditions, and problems of personnel management of the staffing
industry in Japan.
Until now, rigorous empirical research on the use of staffing services,
or on the management strategies, conditions and problems of personnel
management in the staffing industry, has been underdeveloped in Japan.
Currently, however, in addition to labor directly hired by companies,
the use of external laborers, such as temporary agency workers, contract
company workers, etc., is growing in the Japanese workforce. With deregulation
in the latter half of the 1990s, the fee-based, private job-placement
sector is also expanding. Moreover, due to the aging population, businesses
engaged in at-home nursing care are expected to experience stable growth.
In light of these circumstances, and understanding the state of human
resources management in Japanese companies, it is becoming increasingly
important to clarify the current situation and problems of the staffing
industry. This new department has been established to help meet the demands
of this era.
The Department of Research on the Staffing Industry, with the cooperation
of ISS research staff and researchers affiliated with other institutions
(both domestic and foreign), is conducting several research projects.
The researchers are from various disciplines, including economics, law,
and sociology. Based on a variety of analytical perspectives and methodologies,
our goal is to obtain a multifaceted picture of the state of affairs and
problems of personnel management of the staffing industry, and the companies
using such services.
To better explain exactly what this department does, I would now like
to introduce some of the research projects we are currently working on.
First, we are conducting research on the activities of external laborers
at Japanese manufacturing sites. Since the 1990s, the use of contract
company workers by Japanese manufacturers has been rapidly increasing.
Moreover, manufacturers can now use temporary agency workers, although
this had been
illegal until March, 2004. Against this background, we are conducting
research on the staffing companies which supply their workforce to the
manufacturing industry, as well as on the workers employed by temporary
agencies and contract companies who are working at manufacturing sites.
Through this research, we hope to clarify the most appropriate
use of external labor at manufacturing sites, the business strategies
and personnel management of the staffing industry, and the current situation
and problems related to skill formation and career formation of contract
company workers and temporary agency workers at manufacturing sites.
Second, we are conducting research on the supervision of temporary agency
workers in clerical occupations in Japan. The managers of the staffing
industry play important roles in improving the motivation of temporary
agency workers. In this project, we are studying the managers of temporary
agencies supplying clerical workers, and the temporary clerical workers
themselves. Accordingly, we hope to clarify the roles that staffing industry
managers play in improving temporary agency workers' motivation, as well
as the most effective ways to supervise temporary agency workers.
Third, we are conducting research on the at-home nursing care business
in Japan. Due to the aging population, at-home care services are becoming
increasingly important in Japan. To further develop these services, it
is important that the at-home nursing care industry continues to train
high quality caregivers, and to maintain stable growth. Therefore, in
this research project, we are investigating at home nursing care business
owners, and caregivers, to learn the most effective ways to supervise
caregivers, to best develop their skills.
Fourth, we are carrying out an international comparison of the use of
atypical workers, including part-timers, temporary agency workers, and
contract company workers, in Japanese, American, and British industries.
Through analyzing the American National Organizations Survey and the British
Workplace Employee Relations Survey, and comparing them to Japanese data,
we will be able to compare the three countries in terms of their employment
practices of atypical work, and the factors regulating the practices.
Also, through conducting interviews in companies in each of the three
countries, we plan to compare how they respectively combine typical full-time
regular workers and various forms of atypical workers in the same workplace.
We are actively having graduate students and young researchers join these
research projects. The department is offering technical and financial
support to the young researchers, and having them conduct surveys and
interviews for the projects. For these researchers, participation in these
projects is a valuable opportunity to gain research skills through on
the job training (OJT). By having young researchers participate in these
projects, we will aid in the development of talented researchers, capable
of conducting empirical research on personnel management and the staffing
industry. This is another important mission of this department.