Looking back to the last 10 years*, 7 in Japan, 3 in Switzerland, it feels exciting, like having entered a second life. Without shame of losing face, studying, and practicing. A learning path to Awareness Intelligence.
*Yes, sometimes I also look back … to learn without regret and without pressure to live up to a story others want to create for us.
A PATH TO AWARENESS INTELLIGENCE
Commonly unspectacular, a Swiss citizen’s life Eastward with the goal to further thrive When I arrive in the land of the rising sun Cultural clashes, there I’m Mathias Sager san
I would not have believed my greeting future Lost identity, emergence of an actualized father Through the eyes of a child, with a child, for a child A new land, far away, yet an inner view that died
Different, knowing, growing, fallen out of favor Refusing the call to fight, love seemed braver The shallowness of business passing by these eyes Remembering my daughter, and the world of lies
I’m doing it again; the challenges are teachers And teaching shall I be against the treacherous Conditional “love”, which I find our time’s disease If I can’t adapt, never will we have more peace
Curtains of tears are my entrance to the light Working all day and night, this path seems right Barriers bridged by worded paintings, painted poetry The magic of the three, third career that’s necessary
My friends, the books alone stand by in times of loss I do not fear death anymore; this pond I cross At the same time, obstacles, and sources of energy Putting into practice what I’ve studied in psychology
I was looking for happiness and found meaning, yes When I accepted meaning, happiness became meaningless Knowledge from the heart because reason is blinding The love for you gives purpose to everything
Civilization, shallow pleasures; they just exist In nature, I resist; in privileges, I don’t insist Inspired, I’m back to follow the calling An artist’s fitness, kindness, and wisdom, I’m all in
Empathic concern •Empathic concern goes beyond simply understanding others and sharing their feelings; it actually moves us to take action, to help however we can (https://www.inc.com)
Positive Empathy (and the avoidance of antipathy) can be taught! •The main roadblock to be removed is the distraction from paying attention. Motivate yourself to be more empathetic by knowing how important empathy is to personal (private and career) and collective well-being!
Emotional hypersensitivity •Emotional hypersensitivity does even sense covered negative emotions (Rozell, E., & Scroggins, W., 2010); Overdoses of negative feelings and pain of others may be a burden for anybody exposed to it (Young, E., 2016)
Misuse of empathy •Empathy can be for the good or the bad, e.g., not only for help, but for manipulation, bullying, and exert cruelty where it harms others most (Fairbairn, 2017)
Emotional contagion •Empathy for the physical and psychological suffering of others, can spread across a team. This is a relevant phenomenon for work places to address as it can cause depression and sickness. Some organizations, therefore, introduce stress-free zones (Young, E., 2016).
Social amplification of risk •Media plays a crucial role in reminding people of threats, coalition challenges, and feelings of uncertainty, which results in increases of the proclivity for prejudices against out-group members.
Empathic imagination •Imaginative empathy is one of the great gifts that humans have and it means that we can live more than one life. We can picture what it would be like from another perspective. – Dan Chaon
Strategic thinking involves SYSTEM THINKING, reframing (e.g., positive thinking), and reflection (e.g., evaluating one’s reasoning). Strategic thinking is best enabled in unforceful leadership communities and has positive effects on information seeking behavior (Pisapia, J., 2006)
A system thinker (as compared to a linear thinker) is able to improve the performance of a whole by not only improving its parts but by enhancing the RELATIONSHIPS AMONG THE KEY PARTS systemwide.
Often, solution approaches are rather reactive and focus on addressing symptoms rather than the underlying problems. CHANGES COMES AT THE LEVEL OF CULTURE, mindset, by regenerating MENTAL MODELS based on (self-) awareness.
Be aware of the heuristics (“rules of thumbs”) in DECISION-MAKING STRATEGIES. For important decision, mental shortcuts may rely too heavily on limited (personally available) and representative (personal image) information.
Although GLOBAL MOBILITY SURVEYS (BGRS, 2016) report the strategic importance of global mobility function for the competitive advantages of large organization, only 10% of the respondents answered that their company’s global mobility strategy is aligned with the broader talent agenda.
Immersion into international assignments/expatriation may foster more deep LEARNING ABOUT THE ‘HOW’ AND ‘WHY’ of how foreign cultures on the otherwise invisible level work. This can be beneficial for individual career capital and talent retention.
Different career trajectories (e.g., dual careers) require a more strategic ALIGNMENT OF LIFETIME STAGES AND CAREER STAGES that are integrated into the organization’s strategic direction.
Cultural tightness (independent of nationality, culture, and legislation for gender equality), in some organizations in some countries, hinders ADVOCATING WOMEN LEADERSHIP (Toh, Leonardelli, 2013)
REVERSE/BACKWARD MENTORING can help to bring together the younger generations’ digital talent and the older colleagues rich experience, while providing both a possibility to engage and develop (Claire, 2011).
More PROFESSIONAL FREEDOM, MEANINGFUL WORK, and WORK-LIFE BALANCE tend to constitute job characteristics increasingly crucial as a high-level tendency across different cultures. The question remains how far these can be achieved in environments of fierce competition and profit requirements.
Although ‘meaning’ isn’t reducible to a state-like single factor , the meaning of a concept (i.e., work) is related to how an individual does experience the significance of a situation that causes related inferential intentions to behave in a certain way . While for many people the primary meaning of work lies in the earning of money for making a living, work provides also for values such as achievement, honor, and social relationships that determine how central the purpose of work is as compared to other life aspects like leisure, family, and community .
Economist and psychologist approach to work
The economist approach to work assumes a transactional exchange of time and effort for money. Non-financial job values have gotten limited attention by economists when examining work motivation and productivity. However, like for example, academics who have highest job security without the need to outperform, and who study beyond working hours without monetary incentives, are motivated by pure contribution to a subject, intellectual stimulation, and the satisfaction from a deliberate exchange of knowledge. Similarly, entrepreneurs enjoy the freedom of autonomous decision-making regardless of ‘pain’ put into it in the form of time and effort. Top talents have been found to prefer to work for social organizations rather than just for the best paying one .
Albeit the financialized political economy  ignores many aspects of work, such as its creative and interpersonal (social) value , the examples show that through psychological satisfaction, work can be a source of meaning beyond merely earning an income .
Cultural features of work meaning
Work creates culture, culture creates work
Culture as a guiding set of material, mental, and spiritual values that are based on a group’s experiences over time, creates meaning on how to behave and work  and, at the same time, its meaning itself is produced by work. Consequently, work should be considered a meaning-making construct of and within culture respectively as the producer and product of people’s mindset simultaneously . A culture, therefore, can be only as rich and meaningful as the work that produces it is itself.
In most Western cultures, there is today a less clear boundary between school and work life. In Japanese society though, there exists still a distinct point in time (usually beginning of April every year) that is marking the end of one’s student identity through entering the working world on full-time basis, which means to becoming a ‘shakaijin,’ i.e., a person of society/workforce . Companies use recruitment practices and regular personal assessment throughout an adult’s work life to socialize . Age-based reward and promotion systems also support this ongoing socialization process . More recently, the traditional path to adulthood and ‘companyism’ has become more diverse, and the increasing number of part-time workers and contractors is shaping a changing understanding of the transition to adulthood and work life, one that takes place rather through action than through the acquisition of the ‘shakaijin’ status .
Masculine breadwinner identity
Company respectively work-led socialization reinforces gender roles. The breadwinning role is a priority in masculine identity. After the earthquake in 2011, men’s concern in Fukushima was less related to health than to the loss of their economic situation . As in Japanese patriarchal culture, the father role is still primarily related to company job-related work, childcare duties are culturally assigned to solely to the female role (i.e., mother or grandmother), which provides a widespread potential for work-family conflicts. Shared family and work-related commitments, however, begin to be seen as essential to improve self-worthiness and a sense of meaningfulness in life . Men who don’t exhibit a regular full-time job are more likely to marry late. Also, males with non-standard jobs have the lowest chance of getting children, an effect that is prevalent in Japan, but not in the US, for example .
Given the importance of work as a provider of status, identity, and meaning, it is understandable that Japanese commit with a lot of grit to it . Over time, Japan’s values align more closely with global trends insofar as there is a great emphasis on the economic function of work as well . Will that be enough meaning to engage the next generations of employees as well? Research is showing that lack of meaning at work is reducing work volition and work-related well-being significantly .
Economy of dignity and respect
A further question is how much a collectivist society may be able to reduce the dependency on others and society overall because over-dependency on the meaning of work risks to hamper dignity. The individual capacity to understand and position oneself as a fully recognized societal participant is vital to the notion of dignity as sourced from within. It is to hope that companies and society, not only in Japan, help to create dignity by de-stigmatizing of traditional personhood markers such as employment type and gender roles . It’s maybe such a shift from status-focus to an action-focus orientation that also explains the changing meaning of ‘sonkei’ (Japanese for respect). Formal respect (e.g., towards age-based status) is increasingly recognized as a moral duty rather than an emotion built on genuine love and admiration .
Benefits from meaningful work
The benefit of employees perceiving their work as meaningful come as experiences of greater happiness, job satisfaction, team spirit, and commitment (; ), thus reducing turnover rates and long-term sickness absences. This is because of the positive emotional bondage to the workplace that is an end in itself; a characteristic also called intrinsic motivation . A greater sense of meaning in one’s work can be protective of burnout . Eudaimonia is a term describing the sort of well-being that comes from living an engaging, meaningful, and fulfilling life . Such a spirit at the workplace can be fostered by letting employees feel they contribute to something more significant in connection to a common connection and purpose .
Performance and physical health
Work meaning is also closely linked to better outcomes, such as increased income, quality of work, and job satisfaction . Finally, a sense of purpose and sense of socially embedded growth in and from work (i.e., eudaimonic, meaning-based well-being versus hedonic, pleasure-based job-satisfaction ) was found to be associated with positive health outcomes, for example, by the means of supporting one’s physical resistance against adversities like inflammation or viral infection . The Japanese type of stress-death, the so-called ‘karoushi’ (death from overwork) cannot be seen as a physiological phenomenon only. Rather death is caused by a vicious cycle of depressive feelings, and states of helplessness and unescapable despair combined with overwork .
Fostering meaning at work
A culture of mentorship and nostalgia
For a long time, job satisfaction research has been focused on an organizational perspective without sufficiently considering the role of the job on family, the standard of living, personal development, and on a worker’s larger worldview . It is crucial to understand better situational contexts in which meaning ensues. Researchers found that the highest levels of meaning arise during spiritual practices and work hours, especially when performing social job components such as talking to people. As a general pattern, meaning occurs most during states of increased awareness . An organizational listening climate may facilitate such an awareness , and acting as a self-reflective mentor might be a useful avenue of experiencing meaning at work . Indeed, studies among nursing practices from different countries (e.g., Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, and Korea) confirm that leaders and a culture of mentorship are important for fostering meaning of work for both mentors and the mentees . Also, the induction of nostalgia (i.e., remembering sentimental events from the past) can be used to meet employees longing for wistful affection to the past and may increase an employee’s perception of the meaningfulness of his/her organizational life and therefore the attachment to it .
The need for humanizing the economy
The hope that unfulfilling, unsatisfying, and even health and life-threatening mental stress at work will improve may be overshadowed by the continuing centrality of profit margins and efficiency in corporations. Neo-liberal development in Japan has shaken the traditions of secure long-term employment and a state responsible for citizens welfare. While the need for meaning at the workplace implies rather a humanization of the economy and society, capitalist marketization of everything is continuing. Corporate managers continue to exploit deregulated labor and capital and maintain insecurity and growing competition among workers. . While rhetoric is sometimes trying to convince otherwise, understandably in the light of how grim the reality reveals, capitalism’s ultimate sense is about capital rather than humanity. In case of conflict, business goals come before anything else. Regardless of how meaningful employees perceive their job, no CEO is considered unsuccessful when driving profits within legal constraints and without caring especially about humanistically meaningful jobs. It’s, therefore, as an example, a non-surprising and common observation that such managers only after their retirement turn to a more dedicated anthropological role of contributing to society.
Meaning determines moral and ethical intentions and behavior
It seems that people need to find answers from within because the treadmill of the pursuit of consumption, pleasure, and economic success from work won’t fulfill the potential of greater meaning at work in many cases, regardless of how comfortable or tough the circumstances. It is each and everyone’s responsibility to fill the void of meaning through their sacred awareness, philosophy, and artful approach to put it into practice. And it is critical that we help others to do so too. The meaning of work should be considered simultaneously from an individual, organizational, and societal perspective, considering its psychological function for everyone. Meaning is the basis on which intentions ensue and according actions follow . Consequently, claiming peaceful fulfillment in one’s work is an essential part of and prerequisite for moral and ethical behavior towards oneself and others alike.
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Prizing of social capital on individual, institutional, and societal levels
The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’
Global citizenship, international careers, and the culture of global nomadism
Matching national and organizational culture
According to Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998), social capital is “the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded within, available through, and derived from relationships” (as cited in ). However, it is not enough to design global leadership development programs with the goal to share knowledge according to national cultures in multinational enterprises (MNEs) without carefully making sure that the program also matches the organizational cultures involved (Espedal, Gooderham, & Stensaker, 2013).
Prizing of social capital on individual, institutional, and societal level
How the built social capital is prized depends on context. For example, Singaporean bureaucratic and political elite prizes social and cultural capital from the US, UK, and Western Europe highly as a result of Singapore’s unique history . In academia, it is known that the apt use of researchers’ social capital in the form of international research networks helps significantly in achieving excellence . On the other hand, global mobility experiences that come with a personal value such as new perspectives and knowledge about different cultures and systems can be not valuated as social or cultural capital by the home environment and therefore doesn’t get utilized by the respective institutions and organization . There can be even biases on individual, organizational, and societal level because of strong interpersonal and intergroup processes preventing non-discriminatory perceptions of the intercultural aspects they are confronted with .
The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’
The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’ describes the behavior of individuals who aspire to grow their professional global connectivity but remain emotionally relatively uninvolved locally . In the case of expatriates, they can be conflicted between resistance and acceptance of the new culture as part of incorporation its possibilities within themselves . For people from collectivist cultures, the loss of their societal embeddedness might not be felt as compensated  by the newly gained increase of social capital from a global perspective. Money can replace social capital in the sense that knowledge transactions can be bought anywhere (e.g., banking, legal, and medical services, etc.), independent of location .
Global citizenship, international careers, and the culture of global nomadism
Social capital networks reinforce themselves  and education, financial means, and access to information and communication technology determine to what level talent can be optimized  . To get access to global social capital, globalized forms of education to foster global citizenship is recommended by the UN . Often international assignments don’t necessarily lead to returns home and can result in onward mobility and international careers within a community, which shares a culture of global nomadism  that is of horizontal multi-cultural nature . The alignment of an individual’s lifetime stages and an organization’s strategic direction can be helped through a mentoring, mutual help in storying and career/goal alignment that is managed by a well-integrated Talent and HR Management practice .
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Summary. The increasing number of expatriates reflects the need for multinational enterprises (MNEs) to compete in a global knowledge economy. Despite high pressure, mobility program cost management practices are often weakly formalized. To take full advantage of international assignments, the assignees’ gained knowledge should be matched with required job competencies. The ratio of parent-country nationals (PCNs) at subsidiaries is influencing business performance. Also, besides defensive and retaliatory actions, relational measures can be used to maintain access to social capital in case of poaching in the host country. Finally, intercultural training based on clearly defined goals for business and leadership development purposes can increase the success rate of international assignment significantly.
Over 200 million extra-national employees worldwide
The number of employees assigned to foreign countries in 2013 was 214 million people, tendency increasing . This article focuses in places on a multinational enterprises (MNEs) setting of interdisciplinary digital businesses from a Japan perspective (with global reach) that is heavily relying on knowledge and relationship-based intangible data assets.
Room to evolve in aligning the role of mobility with talent management
The information technology industry continues to be a growing sector with fierce competition and cost pressures . While almost half of IT companies do not systematically measure international assignment costs, companies respond sensitively to cost factors. For example, as a reaction to surging residence costs for expatriates, Japanese companies in 2014 sent 10,000 employees less to China than still in 2012 when the number was at 57,000 . Also, an international assignee attrition rate that could be problematic for a company when too high seems to exist in the IT sector, with survey results reporting a 25% of assignee loss as compared to overall survey respondents’ average of 14%. Generally, assignee’s increase market value serves as an explanation for their moving on to better career opportunities outside of the firm. The Japanese tenure- rather than market-value-based employment system  could mitigate that risk though. On the other hand, some Japanese expats may not return due to concerns with too much discriminating, rigorous, and long working hours required in the Japanese working world, as a popular Japanese blog suggests . In any case, to mutually benefit from mobility programs, both the employee and the firm should be able to count on HR’s ability to match the expatriate’s knowledge with job’s required competencies . Furuya (2007) suggested the deliberate and proactive use of appropriate HR policies and practices (e.g., job analysis) that help realize the advantages of global assignments . Indeed, successful mobility has become a barrier for Japanese MNEs; yet formal programs are rarely in place .
One out of five Global Mobility Trends IT sector survey participants responded that they do not know their business need for internationally experienced talents . Not enough parent country nationals (PCNs) at subsidiaries is curbing business performance; too many PCNs, however, let performance decline due to increasing resistance against loss of local identity . The APAC region’s (IT) companies see Brazil and second, Taiwan as their favorite destinations for foreign assignments beyond 2015 . From a host country’s perspective, e.g., Taiwanese firms seek Japanese employees’ knowledge  and increasingly poach Japanese workers . For MNEs, relational actions such as alumni to keep access to human social capital might be an additional alternative to overly defensive or punitive measures .
Need for intercultural training
20% of international assignees reported difficulties in acclimating to the new culture. Also, people from strong cultures like China and Japan tend to stick with their compatriots . Therefore, intercultural training  and/or timely termination (in case of issues) of expatriate projects are crucial to avoid relational damage . Also, separate but integral goals and strategies for business and talent development should be defined in Japanese MNEs mobility programs . Sufficient language proficiency has to be fostered too to enable an efficient knowledge transfer .
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Strength-based approaches to fostering “female” leadership styles
Humanitarian principles and global egalitarian mindset
The case for gender equality
Although women represent half of the population in education and global workforce at career start and mid-level management, men outnumber women in all sectors’ leadership positions. The role of female talents in future leadership is a critical challenge  for the growth of economies . A study among a big sample across 26 countries found that work-life balance, commitment, and turnover thoughts are related to perceived job autonomy that is, for women, mediated by present gender egalitarianism .
Prestige economies and cultural tightness
Prestige governs economies, causing countries with high expenditure in research and development to have comparatively fewer female members (e.g., Japan with 11.6% female researchers, and only 9.7% professors), while low-expenditure nations (e.g., the Philippines and Thailand employ female researchers beyond 45%) . To stay with the example of Japan, nations with similar challenges related to vocational stereotypes, job availability constraints, traditional bias and a collective mindset, even when not having as much government promotion of female employment as Japan, tend to have fewer women in corporate executive positions. Roibu and Roibu (2017) ascribe this to the strictness of how social and work rules are enforced . Indeed, cultural tightness, i.e., the fierceness of norms, contributes to explaining why some organizations in some countries are less successful in advocating women leadership than others . However, the finding of male domination in higher leadership positions seems to be more generally a phenomenon somewhat independent of nationality, culture, and even legislation for gender equality .
Functional literacy and inclusiveness
Fast technological change can negatively pronounce skill deterioration during work interruption, such as caused by maternity leave . Also, education needs to be carefully analyzed regarding whether it is suited to improve social inclusion or whether, in contrast, aggravates competitive exclusivity . For example, functional literacy programs shouldn’t be designed as a reading and writing capability only, but as emancipatory enablers that integrate reading, writing, and socio-economic and political understanding for democratic participation and the self-efficient creation of social networks and wealth .
Strength-based approaches to fostering “female” leadership styles
Some woman may be more sold on power-promising, rewarding, and recognizing careers  and learn how to play the neo-liberal corporate game. Many, on the other hand, do also keep a philanthropic attitude that might not be come to success in an economy that rewards competition . Leadership styles are evolving though, and the value of emotional intelligence is bringing female leaders, albeit slowly, into pole positions . Strength-based approaches to talent development can help also preserving gender-specific genuineness throughout personal careers .
Humanitarian principles and global “female” mindset
The human species can change its mindset, and a female leadership style based on humanitarian principles might be precisely the fit for an increasingly globalized and cooperating world . Millennial women are expected to have a high interest to play a global role . Already existing transnational women’s movements  may additionally help to boost self-esteem to create more egalitarian local and global environments.
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Summary. This article critically sheds light on current socio-economic challenges for Japan and the need for developing a global mindset for companies in a globalizing world. With little chance for getting a management position before the age of 40 and confronted with dominating domestic demand for a monolingual male workforce, Japan’s youth gets blamed for being ‘insular’ and individually responsible for the lack of global mindsets. To improve global success, Japanese HR practices’ global talent management programs have to address the need for highly skilled and globally minded talents in Japan and their expatriates. Japan-specific, step-by-step, and creative alternative solutions may be required to make it happen.
Japan’s current unclear development of its role in global economy comes from various challenges such as two decades lasting economic stagnation  and increased competition from China and India . Salary men sweat devotedly for the big companies and government agencies for the return of stable careers, while their wives take care of raising the next generation guaranteeing the continuation of the system that has become antithetical to fast-paced global changes . A global mindset is needed for many Japanese organization, and there are calls for a related shift in education (; ). However, most Japanese companies favor domestic monolingual male workforce , which informs higher education in the way that fewer and fewer students in Japan envision to study abroad . The collectivist Japanese culture might emphasize that trend as the unity of family raises expectations for children not to stay away from their family and take care of their parents .
Japanese see the development of a global mindset as an individual rather than an organizational burden. Due to seniority-based promotion systems, only 9% of Japanese managers are below the age of 40, compared to 62% in India and 76% in China . Ironically, the lack of talents with global mindsets has not been associated with strict hiring practices, bigoted immigration policies, or with conservative firm cultures but instead the ‘insular’ young people, the so-called ‘uchimuki,’ are blamed for keeping the island inwardly retreated .
Japanese HRM practices’ global talent management initiatives have been reported to not being suitable to attract sufficient talent with a global mindset for multinational enterprises . English in Japan is still treated as belonging to the US or UK rather than being a global language . HR brokers until today have mostly focused on low-skilled short-term immigration . Therefore, not surprisingly, Japan ranks last behind all major industrialized nations regarding the percentage of foreign academics and engineers employed .
A trend of an increasing number of Japanese self-initiated expatriate entrepreneurs to developing countries in Asia indicates the presence of not only entrepreneurial but also global mindsets as related to social and sustainability missions . Japanese multinationals, however, comparatively have difficulties to go international with their often highly successful local businesses in which the home-country expatriates obviously need to re-assess their globalization abilities . For example, Japanese business men are used to relationship-based marketing  and would need to adapt to a more need-based style when selling abroad . Maybe hybrid forms of globalization activities, developed through Japan-based HR training can advance the integration of cultural differences to promote global success . Anti-globalization sentiments after the nuclear plant accident in Fukushima in 2011 and perceptions of unfairly exploitative global businesses may require an alternative kind of globalization as happening in the arts that, e.g., builds on alternative smaller destinations . Step-by-step quick wins could increase confidence in more long-term investment into global mindsets to improve results from globalization .
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1. The role of job analysis in Global Talent Management
2. Japanese tendencies and the focus on people vs. positions
3. Towards systematic talent identification
1. The role of job analysis in Global Talent Management
The identification of talent is a central aspect of Global Talent Management (GTM) practices in multinational enterprises (MNE’s) . Job analysis respectively competency analysis constitutes a required input for talent identification . However, traditional job analysis that has represented a fundamental necessity for many HR activities seems to have become increasingly outdated . Indeed, the number of current articles about job analysis is decreasing, while, in contrast, related fields such as competency modeling and work analysis describing more broadly and evolving organizational roles are trending . The relative popularity of competency models may be explained by its alignment with organizational strategy and related performance goals .
The diminishing relevance of the use of job analysis results such as job descriptions, may come from the shift towards recruitment strategies that are led not by vacancies but rather by onboarding talents to be able to fill strategic roles when they arise. Therefore, rather than looking at existing job tasks, companies strategically may look, especially concerning their leadership competency profiles, for visionary talents who are well connected, cross-culturally skilled, and whose values match well with the firm culture .
Another essential consideration in evaluating the utility of job analysis in Talent Management is the level of detail that is elaborated to describe job requirements. While more holistic approaches result in more generic and abstract information convince through their cost-efficiency, the gathering of more detailed data is supporting the judgment process of what specifics contribute to the overall ratings of importance . Researchers argue that the psychometric quality of competency models decline when judgments are based on broad job descriptions .
2. Japanese tendencies and the focus on people vs. positions
Japanese talent acquisition practices are strongly shaped by domestic approaches , which the interview results of this study also confirm. The identification of skills, abilities, knowledge and other characteristics (KSAOs) informs talents identification. Although methods such as, e.g., job analysis  focusing on jobs as a starting point for Talent Management are a promoted view , Japanese (multinational) companies tend to work the other way around, i.e., starting with people and then figuring out where to go with the workforce.
The concept of lifetime employment is still alive in Japan. When keeping people is an overarching goal of an organization, job descriptions, and missing job descriptions respectively would limit maneuvering room. Line managers’ expectation rather than job requirement and talent assessment documentation is determining who’s considered to be a talent suitable for what position. This relational focus on work, however, is an important aspect of complex job roles in general and everywhere . However, a tendency towards influencing employee behavior subjectively from manager’s perspective versus a more objective reliance on job descriptions  was identified a specific feature of Japanese talent management.
While modern talent approaches may shift from input to a more output-oriented view , past achievements (e.g., education and type of university), as well as seniority, are decisive for the employee payments and promotions . On the other side, HR positions often get occupied by staff who is rotated, even against their will. The interview repeatedly pointed to the need for more education to address the lack of HR and talent management capabilities as measured against good global practices and evidenced anecdotic by especially young talents who seem to expect more consideration for their career aspirations. As for job analysis, inexperience, in contrast to carelessness, would not necessarily have to result in low quality judgments though .
3. Towards systematic talent identification
Job analysis can uncover needs for improvement in work environments  and have positive effects on talent management, such as objective and talent-focusing development. Improper job descriptions leaving employees unclear about their duties and competencies can also lead to legal issues . As, for example, Hitachi demonstrated, the implementation of systematic talent identification and evaluation can improve multinational operations . Albeit talent selection by fixed job characteristics might have become an insufficient method , the usage of some work profiles to create good matches between individuals and jobs would be advantageous for staff and organizations alike . A better (psychological) understanding of strategic jobs from an organization’s HR perspective would for sure help underline the importance of talent management  in achieving the increasingly complex and global organizational goals.
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When presenting Platform Cooperativism as a fairer user-/worker-owned model of running online platforms, I often hear answers like “that’s a great idea, but it’s too difficult to realize.” However, technology to implement the co-operative digital economy is emerging. Solutions become available to sustainably crowd-source, share value, and govern democratically. Hexalina.io is one such example.
It is now generally admitted that income inequality is one of the biggest problems of our world and a peril to the fabric of our society. A few years ago, the rise of the “sharing economy” gave great hopes to change this: soon everybody would be self-employed, and benefit from the new opportunities unlocked by the internet, technology and platforms.
Today, unfortunately, the reality is bleaker: millions of people have indeed become self-employed and provide the services that increase –sometimes dramatically- the value of these platforms thanks to the network effect they create and the customer adoption they generate.
However, neither the contributors, nor the customers of the platforms have the opportunity to own a share of the value they create.
A lot of people realize this is counterproductive and eventually unsustainable. However, there seems to be no easy solution that can address the problem and scale to match its rate of expansion.
What we propose is a technology that can be integrated into platforms, allowing them to adopt a more collaborative approach where interests of owners, customers and contributors are aligned, because a fraction of the created value is shared fairly between them.
Think of it as the “Fairtrade” label for a platform. We call it the “sustainable network effect”.
Industry adaption of Platform Cooperativism is the goal of the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium. Although awareness and motivation for the co-operative way is crucial, if there is no easy way to act upon, good intentions don’t get realized. That’s where technology solutions come into play.
The PCJ Consortium supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.
The percentage of employees employed by small and medium enterprises (SME’s) decreased from 80% to 70% in the last 20 years. Issues regarding the ownership succession of businesses are essential in the light of an aging society and the need for sustainable socio-economic development. The SME Cooperative Act of 1949 is for small and medium enterprises that lack financial resources in the conduct of joint businesses based on a spirit of mutual-aid to raise their economic status. The creation of a worker co-operative law would allow the further formalization of the opportunity of business conversions into worker cooperatives in any business sector. Business successions to employees would create a fairer economy where the trinity of ownership (investors), management (managers), and value creation/utilization (workers, users) is balanced for the benefits of its active membership.
Number of SME’s in Japan has fallen by 1 million during the last 20 years
It would be great if we could already discuss co-operative ownership succession of large organizations. However, I’m not aware of a “buy-twitter-initiative” in Japan so far. So, the more immediate opportunity for Platform Cooperativism may lie with small and medium businesses. Over the past 20 years, the number of SMEs in Japan has fallen by about 1 million and the number of SME employees decreased from 80% to 70% percent of overall employment (White Paper on Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan 2016). I am not sure how much the demographic challenges of the aging society would be the cause of such a decline in the digital sector especially, as increasing eliminatory market dominance of the big corporations is an inherent feature of many digital platforms.
Opportunity for ownership succession to employees
I experience that Japanese observers are regretting the disappearing of SME’s due to a lack of successful succession management. A similar issue represents the continuing rural exodus. There is mentioning of that when the business successions among SMEs are becoming issues, business successions to non-family persons, such as employees, are increasing (Kubota, 2010). So, I feel there are lots of opportunities to promote the co-operative way, although the predominant family business succession models are to the family or third parties other than employees and are separating ownership and management. Japan is currently still one of the few developed countries without a worker coop law, which is certainly not helpful.
For example, in agriculture, the succession and inheritance aspect is (globally) less researched because there is a view that family farming is heading towards extinction anyway. However, as still many farms are owned and managed by families, there may be renewed interest in intergenerational and intra- and inter-family cooperative solutions such as worker co-operatives.
Japanese business cooperation
Japanese small businesses are typically strongly cooperating and sub-contracting between companies, also for the rehabilitation of (struggling) small enterprises. There is a system of Small and Medium Enterprise Cooperatives based on the SME Cooperative Act from 1949, facilitating small and medium enterprises that lack financial resources in the conduct of joint businesses based on a spirit of mutual-aid to raise their economic status. The joint business cooperatives are, e.g., joint store associations, chain business associations, joint investing companies and voluntary groups.
The Japanese business system, also described as “co-opetition”, a mix of severe competition and collectivist Japanese culture, may be a fertile ground for #platformcoopjp. On the other hand, tendencies of specializing employees to contribute to a collective raise the question of how easily employees can assume initiative and more active (intrapreneurship) roles in case of becoming part of an employee-owned/managed organization.
The Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium is continuing to collaborate and research for the exploration of opportunities in applying co-operative (platform) solutions to business successions and share the lessons learned also outside of Japan.
The king has, in the struggle of defending his crown, given the virtual land to the landlords. Now the peasants pay the tolls to the privileged class who rules the online territory for the maximization of its own financial profits and influence. How will the insurgency look like? Time for (re-) new(-ed) alliances for effective and hopefully non-violent rebellion.
Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) connects key stakeholders of the emerging platform economy ecosystem to create synergies in the pursuit of increased shared value, ownership, and governance. The PCJ Consortium supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.
Inspiration from the History of Switzerland:
The Old Swiss Confederacy began as a late medieval alliance between the communities of the valleys in the Central Alps, at the time part of the Holy Roman Empire, to facilitate the management of common interests such as free trade and to ensure the peace along the important trade routes through the mountains. With the rise of the Habsburg dynasty, the kings and dukes of Habsburg sought to extend their influence over this region and to bring it under their rule. The foreign landlords collected tolls from bridges. Anti-Habsburg insurgences sprung up, but were quashed quickly. This time of turmoil prompted the Waldstätten to cooperate more closely, trying to preserve or regain their Reichsfreiheit. On August 1, 1291, an Everlasting League was made between the Forest Communities for mutual defense against a common enemy. The three founding cantons of the Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, as the confederacy was called, managed to defeat Habsburg armies on several occasion, and ensured a de facto independence from the empire. The Freibrief, or freedom charter, to “the people of the valleys,” recognized and formalized in law the independence from the Habsburg that they had gradually won in fact.