201411161512Slow Down or Slow Dawn? Organizational Practices, Culture, and Emerging Opportunities for Women and Minorities in a Shrinking Japan

By 2065, demographers predict that Japan’s population will fall by 30% from its 2010 peak. As a result, Japanese firms increasingly need women and foreign workers to fill labor shortages. In my dissertation, I ask, how do culture and practices within firms shape opportunities for these workers during this time of demographic flux? I use original survey and interview data collected from over 500 white-collar foreign and Japanese employees in twelve major firms. I find that while top jobs have desegregated somewhat, both the status hierarchy and the general pattern of wage inequality remain largely intact; the most advantaged outsiders—in this case, white Western men—have gained the most, and Japanese women and Asian immigrants continue to experience disadvantage. This dissertation thus calls into question the optimistic prediction that greater wage and status equality are a natural consequence of desegregation, and shows that the leveling effects of demographic decline are real but limited. The findings have implications for scholarly understanding of organizations, inequality, and migration, and help us predict who will benefit from the massive demographic changes facing Japan and the rest of the developed world.