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Where are they going? Case of British and Japanese human resource management

William Il kuk Kang (University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)
Gaston Fornes (School of Sociology Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Asia Business Studies

ISSN: 1558-7894

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to explore and understand corporate social responsibility (CSR) and human resource management (HRM) practices of the UK and Japan, who share opposing societal and cultural characteristics, from a national business system (NBS) perspective, to answer the following two questions: the extent of convergence/divergence of CSR-HRM of two very different NBS, and the institutional relations behind the convergence/divergence.


For these purposes, the paper proposes a framework that can be utilised to understand the complex relationships between institutions, HRM, and CSR. Using a qualitative approach and grounded theory analysis as well as multiple-case analysis of six cases from the UK and Japan, the findings are tested against the framework.


The paper was able to confirm that mimetic and coercive isomorphism from global institutional pressure cause certain convergence of CSR-HRM in these two nations. However, simultaneously, the local institutional pressure (i.e. NBS) appears to be deeply rooted and is more salient at micro-level, resulting in diversified CSR-HRM in the two nations. As a result, it appears that convergence and divergence co-exist due to their differences in NBS with possibility of “crossvergence”.


This paper’s significance lies not only in contributing to the existing convergence–divergence debate on both CSR and HRM but also to help understanding of how Western CSR-HRM concepts are utilized and interpreted in East Asian countries with very different NBS from the West, with the aid of the proposed framework.



Kang, W.I.k. and Fornes, G. (2017), "Where are they going? Case of British and Japanese human resource management", Journal of Asia Business Studies, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 296-322.



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