May 2010

IZA DP No. 4956: High Performance Work Practices and Employee Voice: A Comparison of Japanese and Korean Workers

Kiu-Sik Bae, Hiroyuki Chuma, Takao Kato, Dong-Bae Kim, Isao Ohashi

published in: Industrial Relations, 2011, 50 (1), 1-29 (lead article)

Using a unique new cross-national survey of Japanese and Korean workers, we report the first systematic evidence on the effects on employee voice of High Performance Work Practices (HPWPs) from the two economies which are noted for the wide use of HPWPs. We find for both nations that: (i) workers in firms with HPWPs aimed at creating opportunities for employees to get involved (such as shopfloor committees and small group activities) are indeed more likely to have stronger senses of influence and voice on shopfloor decision making than other workers; (ii) workers whose pay is tied to firm performance are more likely to have a stake in firm performance and hence demand such influence and voice; and (iii) consequently workers in firms with HPWPs are more likely to make frequent suggestions for productivity increase and quality improvement. As such, this paper contributes to a small yet growing new empirical literature which tries to understand the actual process and mechanism through which HPWPs lead to better enterprise performance.