The University of Tokyo Institute of Social Science Department of Research on the Staffing Industry


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The 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.

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