Fachgruppensitzung Wirtschaft 2022

Organizer: Harald Conrad (Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf)

Georg D. Blind (University of Duisburg-Essen) & Stefania Lottanti von Mandach (University of Zurich): Productivity and stress in Japanese new teleworkers: mandatory versus voluntary introduction

The two speakers analyze productivity and stress levels during the mandatory telework introduction during Covid-19 in Japan. Unlike earlier research on telework, they avoided a common self-selection bias by controlling for agents’ preferences (for and against telework). In an n = 1500 survey conducted in December 2020 they inquired about working arrangements, their being mandatory or voluntary, as well as agent preferences at three points in time: right before the pandemic (Jan 2020), at its outset (March 2020), and six months into pandemic life (Dec 20).

Productivity levels initially did not significantly differ for individuals newly into telework after correcting for age, gender, marital status, breadwinner and management roles, childcare gap, area, job type and general health conscience, but were negatively impacted by a preference mismatch (around -3pp; percentage points) and a cognitive dissonance (not going by one’s preference in spite of having a chance to do so; adding another -5pp). By December 2020, new teleworkers showed a significant productivity differential (around 5pp) even offsetting the mismatch impact. Similarly, stress levels initially did not differ for individuals newly into telework using largely the same controls as before. By December 2020 stress levels for individuals newly into fully remote telework were significantly lower than for the control group of individuals with unchanged working arrangements.


Roman Bartnik (Technische Hochschule Köln): Managing international projects with Japanese firms: A systematic literature review of what works and why

Overview: The systematic literature review described aims to integrate disparate strands of research on projects with Japanese firms. The presentation discussed the preregistered research protocol, focusing on research questions and the process of the systematic literature review.

Introduction: Working across organizational boundaries becomes more complex when the collaborating firms have different organizational and cultural backgrounds (Kirkman et al., 2017). From a transaction cost view, physical and cultural distance increases the measurement costs of coordination and makes it harder to predict the partners’ behavior, harder to judge their reliability and prevent opportunism (Cuypers et al., 2021). From an information processing perspective, structural and cognitive differences make information exchange more difficult as they prevent routine information processing. Routine sequential decisions have to become interactive, as more clarification is required (Egelhoff, 1991, pp. 353–354). This is one of the factors that pushes multinational corporations in general and large Japanese firms in particular to concentrate on collaborating in their home region (Collinson & Rugman, 2008; Wolf et al., 2012).

Given the highly distinctive patterns of coordination and incentive setting that research on Japanese firms shows (Aoki, 1990; Aguilera & Jackson, 2003; Potter & Wilhelm, 2020), it is not surprising that firms who work with Japanese affiliates, suppliers or customers report substantial problems when they work together in projects (Lincoln et al., 1995; Bartnik, 2009).

The aim here is to pull two disparate branches of research together to provide more clarity on what evidence we have on main problems in projects with Japanese firms and on interventions that can help with these problems:

(1) Research on Japanese structures of inter-unit coordination from a) studies on inter-firm coordination structures in the tradition of the varieties of capitalism literature (Hall & Soskice, 2001), b) studies of supplier/buyer relationships with Japanese firms (Dyer & Singh, 1998; Potter & Wilhelm, 2020), c) studies on the inter-unit coordination between Japanese affiliates and headquarters (Asakawa, 2001; Bartnik, 2009) and d) studies on international project management patterns of Japanese firms (e.g. from the automotive, electronics and gaming industries (Clark & Fujimoto, 2005; Cusumano & Kemerer, 1990)).

(2) Research on the impact of Japanese cultural differences on inter-unit coordination, from a) studies in the tradition of Hofstede (2001) on the unit level that discuss the impact of different dimensions of culture from a business studies perspective (Beugelsdijk et al., 2017; Kirkman et al., 2017) and b) psychological studies on Japanese cultural patterns that study individual behavior to discuss e.g. different control style preferences (Heine et al., 2001; Kitayama et al., 1997; Markus & Kitayama, 1994).

Research questions: From these branches, the aim of this project is to collect four types of insights: Evidence on context factors (C), evidence on specific interventions (I) and guesses on the links between context and interventions, underlying theoretical mechanisms (M) that make management interventions work or fail, and outcomes (O) that the literature discusses as connected to these interventions. From these building blocks, the project builds interrelated CIMO-design propositions (Denyer et al., 2008), to help firms collaborate better with Japanese structures and cultural patterns.

Methods: Following the general PRISMA guidelines on systematic reviews (PRISMA-P Group et al., 2015) and methodological recommendations from management studies (Barends et al., 2021; Gusenbauer & Haddaway, 2020; Littell, 2018), the research plan is registered before the analysis to avoid the pitfalls of post-hoc rationalization. The discussion in the session was used to revise the first version of the research protocol before implementation.