Japanese Labor Relations and Legal Implications of Their Possible Use in the United States

Cavens, Marcia J. | January 1, 1983

Current economic conditions have led many United States companies to search for ways of regaining competitive positions in international markets. Japan’s enviable succes in international trade suggests several possible remedies, one of which is development of more harmonious labor-management relations. Some commentators have opposed the application of these cooperative labor practices in the United States, claiming that cultural differences are insurmountable. Japanese-style labor relations, however, have been implemented in the United States, either by conscious imitation, or though similar, domestically developed systems termed quality of worklife and participative management programs. Speculations about and experiments with Japanese labor relations have become popular, and the potential legal consequences of the trend deserve attention. Japanese labor practices may not be compatible with the adversary nature of United States labor law, which does not lend itself to labor-management cooperation.