Theme: Human Resources Management

Associate Professor
Tomoyuki Shimanuki

Biography: Graduated from Keio University Law School. Dropped out of post-doctoral program at Hitotsubachi University Graduate School of Commerce and Management to take a position in the Human Resources Department of a general trading company. Completed Ph.D. at Hitotsubashi University Commerce and Management. Lecturer at Yamanashi Gakuin University and Hitotsubashi University, until taking up my current post. Primary area of expertise is human resources management. Major research interests include changes in HR departments and employment practices in Japanese companies, and changes in the quality of work associated with more diversified forms of employment.

The academic field of human resources management basically involves using HR to achieve corporate strategic objectives and ensure corporate competitiveness. The unique thing about human resources as opposed to other kinds of resources?tangible assets, capital, and the like?is that the value of the resource fluctuates depending on the capabilities and motivation of the members of your workforce. So in order for a company to achieve its strategic objectives, it's not enough to simply hire the employees needed by the company from the labor pool. One also has to consider how to enhance the capabilities and skills of employees through work experience and educational training, how to assess job performance and productivity, then offer appropriate raises, promotions, and incentives to encourage your employees to contribute to the company.

In my seminar, we focus on both the theoretical and the practical aspects of human resources management. In exploring the various issues pertaining to utilization of human resources, I think it's important to approach reality based on a theoretical perspective and framework, while also attempting to uncover brilliant new insights and initiatives from leading companies. In seminar, third-year students painstakingly go through textbooks used in Western business schools in an effort to master the framework and specialized knowledge for dealing with human resources. We read and summarize about 20 pages of English text per week, then discuss ways of utilizing human resources tailored to different corporate strategies, and the applicability of Western personnel management systems to Japanese companies to deepen our understanding of human resources management.

Students work on their objective analytical skills using case studies dealing with changing personnel patterns in Japanese corporations, and explore better ways of thinking about these issues through dialog with guest HR managers from the most forward-thinking firms. Meanwhile, the seniors are preoccupied with their graduation theses and thus absorbed in their own issues. The dissertations deal with all sorts of topics?global human resources, merit-based or performance-based schemes, in-house revitalization, HR for business mergers or management integration, employment for the disabled, and so on?but the most important thing is for the student to come up with his or her own new ideas.

Japanese companies (at least in the case of regular employees) have long been known for certain traditional employment practices?long-term employment, in-house cultivation of human resources, merit-based wages, and the like?but things have changed. Most Japanese companies today are seeking a new globalized model of human resources management associated with far greater diversity of available human resources. Working together with my students here at Hitotsubashi University, I am committed to thinking about the future of human resources management in Japan.


Utilization of human
resources to implement
corporate strategies,

both practically
and theoretically.

Student's Voice


Our seminar is focused on human resources management theory that focuses on the HR of companies. What prompted me to sign up for this seminar was a desire, based on my own part-time work experience, to learn what motivates people as employees. From our English readings, I came across the notion of strategic human resource management, that links corporate strategy with human resources management. In order to achieve its strategic objectives, a company must have efficient human resources, but also ways of assessing and compensating its human resources so employees appreciate the significance of their work and improve their skills. We also had opportunities to analyze actual cases of human resources management reform and chat with guest HR managers about organizational changes they are implementing in their companies. I think what makes this seminar so appealing is that it gives us deeper insight into human resources management while touching on both theoretical and practical aspects of the subject. In my thesis, I plan to explore the concept of strategic human resources management in the employment strategies of small-to-medium-sized firms.