A Defense Of Corporate Raiders

May 24 2012 @ 7:33am

Noah Smith believes that Japan's system, where laws prevent corporate takeovers, greatly reduces worker productivity:

In Japan, the implicit contract between worker and firm is far more important than in the U.S.; companies there view workers as very, very important stakeholders. This is, in fact, why the government makes it so hard to take over companies; Japan is a Bain-basher's dream land. But – and here I venture into the realm of anecdotes and intuition - I do not think that Japanese workers are happier than American workers.

First of all, the low-productivity office environment I described takes its toll. Long wasted overtime hours separate men from their families. Squelched individual initiative creates feelings of frustration and stasis. The impossibility of switching companies, the lack of merit pay, and the pre-determined nature of promotions leave few career goals to strive for. And, most importantly, the binding of employees to their employers creates a pervasive feeling of powerlessness (???) and fear; if bad decisions or market shifts force a company to lay off workers, those workers have basically no hope of finding a similar job elsewhere. No wonder the suicide rate in Japan is so astronomically high. The bulk of those suicides are men of working age.

Yglesias finds overlap between defenders and critics of private equity.