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A Solution for Transnational Labour Regulation?

Company Internationalization and European Works Councils in the Automotive Sector

Axel Hauser-Ditz, Markus Hertwig, Ludger Pries and Luitpold Rampeltshammer

This book examines the role that European employee representatives play in the restructuring of firms. In a globalized economy, company internationalization and transnational restructuring are of growing concern for employees and trade unions. In the European Union, the still rather new institution of European works councils provides basic rights for employees. Using examples of eight large automotive manufacturers like Volkswagen, GM or Toyota, the volume analyzes the internationalization strategies of the companies and the effects of European works councils, pointing to a high degree of variation in strategies and effectiveness of cross-border employee representation.
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Chapter 8: Honda

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Chapter 8:  Honda

8.1  The Honda Motor Company Ltd and Honda Europe

Honda is seen as a special case even amongst other Japanese automotive companies (Shimokawa, 2003). The company is notable for its unique corporate culture, which continues to embody the spirit of its founders, and a long-standing commitment to technical innovation. Studies of Honda have noted the particularly crucial roles of the company founder, Soichiro Honda, who began as an engineer and enjoyed success in implementing a number of adventurous technologies, and his head of finance, Takeo Fujisawa (see, for example, Shimokawa, 2003: 163). The company culture, which both of these individuals enshrined and which represents an important element in the Honda Production System (HPS), is strongly marked by its entrepreneurial spirit, rejection of conventional solutions and imitating the status quo, and organisational flexibility and innovation. The HPS remains anchored in innovative products and flexible mass production (Luethge and Byosière, 2009; see also Mair, 1998: 100).

In 2008 the Honda group consisted of three segments as well the cars division. These were motorcycles, financial services, and power products.148 The company operates through a matrix structure with a functional and regional division, based on six geographical clusters (Japan, North America, Latin America, Europe/Middle East and South Asia/Africa, Asia/Oceania and China). In addition to the four product divisions there are also units for customer service, procurement and production. Shares in the company are dispersed, with no single large-scale shareholders. The...

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