1. December 1999
Katja Stoll Awarded VMI Prize for her Study on Trade Union Confederations in Japan
Association of Metalworking Industries (VMI) in Baden-Württemberg awards prize money of DM 10,000 for outstanding young scientists Study supervised by Heidelberg Japanese Studies scholar Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Seifert
Katja Stoll, Heidelberg graduate in Japanese studies and sociology, is this year's recipient of the prize of the Association of Metalworking Industries (VMI) in Baden-Württemberg for outstanding young scientists. The prize is awarded in recognition of studies "pointing up the significance of the latest scientific and scholarly findings with potential repercussions on industry and the world of work." It comes with DM 10,000 in prize money and will be awarded today in Ulm.
Katja Stoll's M.A. thesis was on the subject of "Trade Union Branch of Industry Confederations in Japan". It was prompted by the observation that such trade unions as actually exist in the Japanese industrial landscape are invariably so-called "enterprise unions" representing (or not) the interests of the core workforces. Hardly any research has been done into the confederations of enterprise unions organised at the branch-of-industry level. Even in Japanese research on the sociology of industry these confederations have been largely neglected.
In the recent past some timid steps have been taken to extend the bargaining powers of these confederations in matters of wage structure and other conditions of work. Are there prospects for a move towards collective bargaining and industrial wage agreements in Japan? If so, this would run counter to tendencies in present-day Germany where systems of collective industrial wage structures for whole branches of industry are increasingly coming under fire.
The "Japanese model" in a state of flux
The study called for the application of sociological methodologies but could not be undertaken without painstaking perusal of original documents in Japanese. It also involved a historical analysis of the reasons why trade unions in Japan are organised at the enterprise level rather than the branch-of-industry level. With a view to capturing the latest trends, Katja Stoll also organised an inquiry in Japanese addressed to all branch-of-industry confederations in the metalworking sector. An important conclusion from this is that, in one important sense at least, the "Japanese model" is indeed in a state of flux, although it would be premature to speak of any attempt to emulate the collective bargaining structures prevalent in the German industrial landscape.
The results are important in view of the formidable presence of Japanese industry in the world markets, both as a partner and as a competitor. In Katja Stoll's thesis the combination of Japanese studies and sociology has borne outstanding fruits. The study was supervised by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Seifert of the Department of Japanese Studies, who specialises in the history and complexion of modern-day Japanese society.
Please address any inquiries to:
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Seifert
University of Heidelberg
Department of Japanese Studies
phone: 06221/547662 or -60, fax: 547692
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
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