As I mentioned in my previous post, the recruiting process for new employees have stayed the same in the last 40 years in Japan. Basically, big Japanese companies hire permanent employees only from among new graduates just once a year. They do not only avoid to employ old workers who used to work for other companies, but also stay away from young people who graduated just a year ago and have not found a job yet. Some people sarcastically say that it is because Japanese companies seek only "work experience virgins".
This unique recruiting practice in Japan has a specific name "shinsotsu ikkatsu saiyo" or "concentrated hiring of new graduates" in English. The Japanese version of wikipedia on this term tells us an interesting fact. According to a governmental study in 2006, the top 2 reasons why Japanese companies continue this recruiting practice is (1) to maintain the age structure of employees (balance in numbers between the young and the old) (2) to acquire human resources who have not been (adversely) affected by other companies' corporate culture. Japanese companies expect these new employees to hold a solid loyalty to them and work for them until the time of retirement. It helped Japanese economy grow fast and steadily until the 1980s.
In the age of globalization and the flattening world, however, this Japan-specific hiring practice most likely will not work any more. The fundamental defect of this method is that it miserably fails to embrace different kinds of people in an organization. Japanese organizations assume homogenious members and if not, they make desperate efforts to uniform the members' ideas by "brainwashing" them. In another word, Japanese people do not know how to organize people other than by gathering people with the same thoughts and background.
In a Japanese organization, members are expected to look the same, think the same, and behave the same. Exotic attitudes are not publicly criticized but privately finger-pointed. Unwritten rules govern the organization. Real power often resides in the people who have no position on the organizational chart, even out of the organization. It is very hard for outsiders to understand. Sometimes it is confusing even to insiders.
This is the time when companies place an appropriate person to a position only on the ground that the person has suitable skills and talent. Other elements (sex, age, ethnic background, etc) are not essential. Only Japanese companies go to the opposite way. Are they stupid? I used to think so. But now my thought has changed slightly. Probably, Japanese companies simply don't know how to deal with diverse people. The management executives have never worked in an environment where different kinds of people work in harmony. It is not that they are willing to keep the traditional recruiting process; they just have no choice but to keep doing it. Maybe, we should feel a little pity for them, instead of despising them.