Profile of the respondents: In line with expectation of the study, majority (87%) of the respondents were male. As mentioned earlier In the Japanese subsidiaries, male employees are preferred compare to female employees. This is because female employees are not viewed as the core workforce but only the supporting staff. It has been a common scenario in Japan that a large number of women employees quit their job due to their family commitments[2,25]. On the other hand 55% of the local managers in this study were married. This perhaps shows the preference of Japanese subsidiaries, which are more towards family oriented personnel. Majority of the managers who participated in this study were Chinese (43%), followed by Malay (38%), Indian (15%) and 4% are other races. The managers fell into various age groups. The highest percentage, 35% of managers fell in the range of 31 to 35 years of age, while the lowest percentage, 2% fell in the range of 51 years old and above. In term of academic qualification, 81% of the managers possess a bachelor’s degree while the others were holding a Master degree. Demographic factors and perceived barriers: The demographic factors involved in the first hypothesis testing were age, gender, race, educational background and marital status. The significant difference between perceived barriers for career advancement opportunities and demographic variables age, race and educational background were tested using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) while gender and marital status were tested using the independent sample t-test. The significant values (p-values) noted for all the perceived barriers tested against marital status, race and educational background were higher than the alpha value of .05. These indicate that there are no significant difference in perceived barriers between married and non-married; races; and educational background of the managers.
In terms of gender, women managers are perceived as less competent and in Japan very few women make up the core work force because they tend to quit after getting married and having children. Consistent with the findings in developing countries[10,24,26] as well as in developed countries[27,28] women employees were the minority and they held lower positions such as production workers. In this study, out of the 317 managers surveyed, only 41 were female managers; most of them were from lower management. Undoubtedly, there are barriers for women to advancement in their careers in Japanese subsidiaries in Malaysia, as well in other countries. They not only face the bias of being a local manager but also the bias of being a woman manager. Therefore, there exists dual bias and discrimination towards career advancement. This study also reveals that women managers felt their performance appraisals did not help them in their career advancement. Indeed there was a significant difference in the way male and female managers valued the importance of performance appraisal (perceived barriers) in the Japanese subsidiaries surveyed. The difference is statistically significant with p-value = 0.041. The male managers (mean = 23.77; SD= 3.96) felt that performance appraisals played a more important role in their career advancement compared to the female managers (Mean = 22.37; SD=4.88). All the other perceived barriers did not show any significant difference with the demographic variable, gender (all the p-values >.05).
The ANOVA test between age and perceived barriers resulted that there is a significant difference in power (F-value = 3.083, p-value = 0.006) and promotion (F-value = 3.633, p-value = 0.002). A post hoc analysis, Turkey HSD was conducted for multiple comparisons for age. It was found that there is a significant difference between the variable power and the groups of managers aged less than 25 and between 41 to 50 years old. The managers from these age groups felt that they were entrusted with less power and decision-making authority in their organizations. Thus they believe that this would affect their career advancement opportunities. On the other hand, the result of the post hoc analysis for the variable promotion showed that there is a significant difference among managers in the age group of 41 years and above. The older managers that have been in the company for a longer time feel that they have fewer opportunities to promotion and career advancement in their Japanese subsidiaries.
Japanese subsidiaries are unique from other MNCs in terms of their human resource management and their style of seniority based promotion as well as hiring fresh graduates to mould them into valuable Japanese employees. Therefore, the age and gender of an employee may influence his or her chance to career advancement opportunities or serve to influence as a barrier. From the sample of this study, it can be seen that there is a small proportion of older long serving employees. There are only 18 managers over the age of 46 years old in the forty-one companies surveyed. Equally clear is the high proportion of workers in the middle-age category, 171 managers, between 31 to 40 years old. This generally shows, although there are a small proportion of older employees in this sample, it does not necessarily mean that many have worked in their companies for a long time. With regards to background, many of the managers have indicated working in other companies before joining the company but still a majority of them, sixty percent, have been working in the company for more than 6 years. Raduan’s findings showed that Japanese subsidiaries prefer older managers for two simple reasons. First, they regard older managers as being more experienced, rational and able to command respect from other employees. Therefore, older local managers are seen as father figures, trusted by other workers to attend to their problems whenever necessary. The Japanese employers adopt a paternalistic approach. It is a means of establishing discipline in the organization. Older managers are also expected to have better communication skills and well-established contacts with the local government and outside agencies that need to be dealt with. Nevertheless, other studies such as Pascale and Athos also find that Japanese companies on the basis of a good academic background have recruited new generations of local managers. They recruit fresh graduates since late 1970’s and early 1980’s by co-operating with the local university authorities to offer scholarships or jobs to these undergraduates. It can be seen that priority in recruiting and selection is given to students to be groomed for higher positions. Therefore, this may serve as a barrier for middle-aged local managers to join a Japanese subsidiary and be promoted. This is because of the competition from the younger managers, who have been in the company from the beginning of their careers. On the whole age and gender showed a significant relationship with career advancement opportunities for local managers in this study. Thus, the first hypothesis which states that there is no significant relationship between demographic factors and perceived barriers to career advancement could be considerably rejected. Indeed previous studies[8,9,29] have shown about the significant influence of demographic factors on perceived barriers to career advancement.
Characteristics of the organization and perceived barriers: From the 41 Japanese subsidiaries surveyed, 25 of the companies have been operating in Malaysia for less than 10 years while 16 companies have been operating for more than 10 years. 60% of the companies surveyed were fully owned by Japanese with 190 local managers and the balance (40%) of the companies were joint venture with 127 local managers participating in the survey. For the purpose of this study, the number of employees available in a Japanese subsidiary determined its size. 14% of the companies surveyed had less than 100 employees, 35% had 101 to 500 employees, 23% had 501 to 1000 employees, 4 companies had 1001 to 1500 and 7 companies surveyed had more than 1500 employees. 71% of the surveyed companies were from manufacturing sector. Four characteristics of the organization were taken into consideration to see whether it had any effect on perceived barriers. All the organizational variables involved were categorical type of data. The variables, type of ownership: fully Japanese or joint venture and the type of operation: manufacturing or nonmanufacturing was tested using the independent t-test.
The variables, size and years in operation were tested using ANOVA because there were more than two groups involved. It was found that there is no significant difference in perceived barriers faced by managers in fully owned Japanese organization and joint-venture organization (all the p-values > .05). For the test against type of operation, a p-value of 0.011 was obtained which indicates that there is a significant difference in promotion faced by managers working in manufacturing and non-manufacturing organizations. Managers in the non-manufacturing sector felt that in term of promotion, they were less satisfied compared to mangers in the manufacturing companies. There were no significant difference between perceived barriers (power; benefits and wages; performance appraisal; feedback; and stereotype) and type of operation. All the p-values were found to be more than .05.
The result from the ANOVA test between number of years in operation and performance appraisal (perceived barriers) indicated there is a significant difference (F-value = 5.331, p-value = .0001). From the post hoc analysis, it can be seen that in companies aged 20 years and more the local managers’ perceive the performance appraisals as more positive compared to companies, which have been in operation for less than 20 years. It was also revealed that there were no significant difference between size of the organization and all the perceived barriers except for performance appraisal (F-value = 2.581, p-value = .0037). The post hoc analysis showed that managers in the companies classified as “big” (over 1000 employees) felt that their appraisals were important to their career advancement in terms of salary increment, job placement and promotional considerations. Overall results of the present study allow the second hypothesis to be rejected. In other words, there is significant relationship between characteristics of organization and perceived barriers to career advancement.
Consistent with the research done by Raduan, this study does show a positive relationship with length of operation and size of the organization on perceived barriers and career advancement opportunities. The effects of length of operation and size of the subsidiary on human resource management (HRM) policies and practices as well as perceived barriers are well documented in the literature[27,30]. Several studies have found a significant relationship between decentralization and the length of operation and size of the subsidiary concluding that age and size of the subsidiary were the most significant factors in decentralization[8,30,31]. According to Gapper, Japanese subsidiaries that are more decentralized are more willing to take risks on local managers compared to newer Japanese subsidiaries. This then reduces the barriers that local managers face in career advancement opportunities which has been cause by the decentralization phenomena.
Stereotype and discrimination and number of local managers in higher management positions: Out of the 317 local managers surveyed, 47% of them belonged to the lower level of management, 52% or 165 managers belonged to middle management and only 0.9% of the managers belonged to top management level. It also revealed that approximately 82 % of the communication with parent company is made by the senior Japanese manager while the senior local manager did only 18%. Other local managers handle 0.3% of the communication. The frequency of the communication is mostly either daily or weekly. 50% of the managers had daily communication, 43% had weekly communication and 7% had monthly communication with the parent company.
To test on the final hypothesis, ANOVA analysis was used to see whether there was a relationship between stereotyping and discrimination in the organization and the number of local managers that are making it to higher management positions. Perceived barrier, stereotype and discrimination, used the interval type of data while number of local managers used the categorical type of data. The results indicated that there is indeed a significant relationship between the mean scores for stereotype and discrimination and number of local managers (F-value = 2.913, p-value = .0035). Local managers felt that they are being discriminated against opportunities for higher management positions in Japanese subsidiaries in Malaysia. From the post hoc output, the number of local managers between 1 to 20, 41 to 60 and 61 to 80 all showed a significant difference with stereotype and discrimination. Thus, the hypothesis, which proposes that there is no significant relationship between the extent of stereotyping and discrimination in the organizations and the number of local managers in higher management positions in Japanese subsidiaries, was rejected.
Similar to previous studies[8,924,26,32], this study revealed that, stereotyping and discrimination does play a role in the number of local managers in higher management positions and creates the problem of ethnocentrism in the organization. Ethnocentrism is the emotional attitude that Japanese subsidiaries have about their own nation; culture and that Japanese manager are far superior to the local workforce. Beamish and Inkpen, found that Japanese subsidiaries filter local managers from higher management positions based on the stereotype that local managers are too inferior to handle authority compared to the Japanese managers. At the same time these authors stated that stereotype and discrimination are decreasing due to the gradual decreasing number of Japanese expatriates and dismantle of the “the rice paper ceiling”. Nevertheless, a more recent study conducted by Harrington showed that there is indeed a strong relationship between discrimination and the number of local managers in higher management positions. The study carried out in Japanese subsidiaries in the United States contradicts Beamish and Inkpen’s study done in 1998, which states that there is a decline in Japanese expatriates. It was also noted that ethnocentrism in Japanese subsidiaries greatly preventing local managers from climbing to higher management positions. On the whole, majority of the findings showed that the existence of stereotyping and discrimination has an impact on the number of local managers in higher management positions in Japanese subsidiaries. This scenario is still evident in Japanese subsidiaries in Malaysia until today.