”Russell Reynolds Associates recently interviewed numerous institutional and activist investors, pension fund managers, public company directors and other governance professionals about the trends and challenges that public company boards will face in 2017. Our conversations yielded a wide array of perspectives about the forces that are driving change in the corporate governance landscape.
BDTI is happy to share a Research Paper titled ”Japanese Corporate Governance from the Perspective of Family Firms” by Hokuto Dazai (Independent), Takuji Saito (Waseda University), Zenichi Shishido (Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy; Independent) and Noriyuki Yanagawa (University of Tokyo – Faculty of Economics).
The research attempts to answer the questions: why have the performances of the Japanese Model of corporate governance (J-form firms) deteriorated since the Japanese economic bubble in the mid-1980s, and why have J-family firms generally outperformed non-family firms? It goes on to analyze and compare J-form and J-family firms on general issues of corporate governance, including internal and external governance, internal promotion rules, long-run reward systems, and incentive mechanisms.
”Social Science Japan newsletter 54 takes up where it left off last issue and continues to explore the theme of governance. This time, the focus is on corporate governance. Six ISS scholars discuss the topic from various angles.
Tanaka Wataru summarizes the ISS research project and the book that inspired this issue’s featured theme. He explains what corporate governance entails and the history of its transformation in Japan. Cato Susumu analyses the dynamics of the wage structure in firms and shows how firm-specific human capital affects wages under a seniority system. Focusing on middle managers as actors in corporate governance, Owan Hideo looks at how they affect firm productivity and what measure can be used to evaluate their performance. Sasaki Dan highlights the concurrent passage, in 2014, of amendments to corporate and school educational law and argues that the reforms have reduced autonomy and increased externally-imposed or topdown control. He raises concerns about the consequences of mandating the inclusion of “neutral,” external members to the executive boards of large corporations. Nakamura Naofumi and Nakabayashi Masaki explore corporate governance in its historical context.
”Public companies are beholden to align long-term interests of executive officers with those of their shareholders, and this balance often manifests in how executives are paid in relation to company performance. Many companies address this through use of equity packages, but because executives can still sell or hedge these shares, their incentives to make long-term decisions for the company are not always clear. To avoid this, many companies implement stock ownership guidelines, requiring executives to own a certain amount of equity in the company.
”For Harvard Business Review to advise companies to stop paying executives based on performance is like your local church telling parishioners to stop dropping money in the collection basket. Yet there it is, in an article published on the magazine’s website Feb. 23: “Performance-based pay can actually have dangerous outcomes for companies that implement it.”
Lest there be any mistake, the article goes on to say, “We argue in favor of abolishing pay-for-performance for top managers altogether. We propose that, instead, most firms should pay their top executives a fixed salary.”
”Japanese firms invest in research and development (R&D) on a level comparable to that of their U.S. counterparts. They possess a high-quality workforce and receive decent management practice scores for organizational and human resource (HR) management. Yet, they fall significantly behind U.S. firms when it comes to earning power.
”Shinzo Abe and Haruhiko Kuroda shouldn’t look to spring wage talks for much help in spurring inflation and economic growth in Japan.
If anything, the picture emerging from the negotiations between some of Japan’s biggest companies and their unions is one of stagnation and slim raises. And the talks, most of which conclude next month, are taking place as a strengthening yen risks pushing down the earnings growth — and stock prices — of Japanese exporters.
Figure 2: Return on Assets Before and After Corporate Leadership Change
Hyeog Ug Kwon, Faculty Fellow, RIETI: ”Japanese firms invest in research and development (R&D) on a level comparable to that of their U.S. counterparts. They possess a high-quality workforce and receive decent management practice scores for organizational and human resource (HR) management. Yet, they fall significantly behind U.S. firms when it comes to earning power.