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From the same journal

Restoring the missing context in HRM: Habitus, capital and field in the reproduction of Japanese repatriate careers

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Publication details

JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
DateAccepted/In press - 16 Dec 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jan 2020
DatePublished (current) - 25 Nov 2020
Issue number4
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)478-493
Early online date16/01/20
Original languageEnglish


HRM literature often fails to adequately consider the political-economic context that can strongly influence HR practices and outcomes. This problem is particularly visible as regards international careers. Notions such as ‘boundaryless careers’ privilege HR and employee agency and neglect the complexity, variety and importance of social structure in influencing careers and constraining agency. Informed by Bourdieu’s theory of practice, this paper explores Japanese HRM through the careers of repatriate managers. Through in-depth and prolonged narrative inquiry it documents the powerful ‘forms of capital’ that structure the ‘salaryman’ career field. Although tensions and conflicts existed - notably in relation to gender - traditional ‘lifetime employment’ careers remain powerful, highlighting the continued centrality of capital and habitus in reproducing the Japanese white-collar career field. We conclude by suggesting alternative ways of conceptualizing, researching and portraying white-collar careers within varied employment environments that are always shaped by specific and situated contexts.

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© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Bourdieu, Careers, Habitus, HRM in MNCs, Japanese management, Job security, Narrative analysis, Qualitative research methods

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