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Wide angle photo looking up to the top of a tall building.
  1. The Work Group
  2. Office Arrangements
  3. Office Ladies (OL)
  4. Enterprise Unions in Japan
  5. Enterprise Union Cooperation
  6. Strikes Japanese-Style
  7. Sexual Harassment
  8. Separate Surnames for Married Couples
  9. “Mighty” Women: Police and the Military Self Defense Force
  10. Ama (Female Diver)
  11. Who Farms in Japanese Farm Households?
  12. San-Chan Nōgyō
  13. The Changing Income of Farm Households
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A group of workers at their desks while supervisor looks on from his desk in front
The supervisor is able to view the entire section. Photo from 1967.
Photo from Mainichi Shimbun.
The Work Group
In large Japanese companies, workers are normally assigned to a work group, and tasks are assigned to the work group rather than to the individual worker. Each work group of about 3 to 20 members has a designated head or boss. All of the members, including the boss, are usually rotated to different work groups every few years. Thus the work group has a constantly changing membership, and it also serves as a first promotion and leadership training post for its head.Most of a work group’s work is carried out in this context, by employees who must cooperate with each other. They will be evaluated on their ability to work together. Work groups are given considerable latitude and responsibility to plan and carry out their assigned tasks as they see fit. Incentives and rewards are generally given to the work group rather than to the individual, further encouraging cooperation.While work groups are the norm for office work in Japan, they are also used in some factories, where a group of workers is assigned collective responsibility for producing or assembling a product and checking its quality. The whole group is responsible for, and evaluated on, its ability to produce products without errors.
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