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Contemporary changes in the relationship between employees and their work are prompting managers to imagine new ways of achieving organizational performance. The rise of the subject in professional relations, and that of an ethic of fulfillment instead of simple duty, have gradually made the recognition of the singularity of each employee predominant (Lalive d’Epinay, 1998). Their unconditional dedication, i.e. without any compensation other than a simple salary, seems less and less likely. These trends also call into question the social acceptance of certain traditional managerial practices, such as the employer’s meticulous control of behavior. In response, indirect performance incentives are gradually replacing constraints. The turn of the millennium has thus witnessed the rise of the theme of well-being at work within the scientific community interested in organizational behavior (Peterson & Seligman, 2003). This shift is part of the ‘search for happiness and general well-being’ by many countries around the world. Specific indicators have been established at the global level (the Human Development Index and the World Happiness Report, United Nations, 1990 and 2011; the Better Life Index, OECD, 2011) to compare and locate levels of happiness and general well-being. In Japan, governments have begun to regularly collect data on these topics through national surveys since 2010. In scientific journals such as The Journal of Happiness Studies (established in 2000) and The Journal of Positive Psycholog…


The controversy about the universality of workplace well-being is the basis for this study. Until it is assured, the external validity of recommended managerial practices for the Western workforce is questionable. Specifically, we investigate whether the general conception and also the way Japanese employees experience well-being at work is different from that of their Western counterparts. The case of Japanese employees is compared with that of American and French employees. The general hypothesis is that the conception of well-being at work is similar in the East and in the West, while the way it is felt—expressed by the original combinations of its constituent dimensions—is contingent. To test this hypothesis, a statistical approach centered on the variables and then on the individuals was carried out. The results obtained from 612 Japanese employees tend to confirm our hypothesis. While the constituent dimensions of well-being at work are similar to those observed in the West, some groupings of employees according to the way they combine these dimensions are specific. These original profiles are those dominated by a) the compatibility of different social times, b) the quality of relationships with colleagues and the manager, and finally, c) favorable relationships with social times and the material work environment. Thus, the managerial practices advocated to develop all the dimensions of well-being of Western staff may not be effective in establishments employing Japanese staff.

  • well-being at work
  • contingency
  • Japan
  • factor structure
  • profiles

Le bien-être au travail conçu et ressenti par les salariés japonais. Convergences et divergences avec les salariés français et américains

La controverse au sujet de l’universalité du bien-être au travail est à l’origine de cette étude. Tant qu’elle n’est pas assurée, la validité externe des pratiques managériales recommandées pour la main d’œuvre occidentale est sujette à caution. Nous cherchons plus précisément à savoir si la conception générale, mais aussi la manière dont les salariés japonais ressentent le bien-être au travail, sont différentes de celles de leurs homologues occidentaux. Le cas des salariés japonais est pour ce faire comparé à celui des salariés américains et français. L’hypothèse générale est que la conception du bien-être au travail est similaire en orient et en occident tandis que son ressenti – exprimé par les combinaisons originales de ses dimensions constitutives – est contingent. Pour la tester, une approche statistique centrée sur les variables puis sur les personnes est réalisée. Les résultats obtenus auprès de 612 salariés japonais tendent à conforter notre hypothèse. Si les dimensions constitutives du bien-être au travail sont similaires à celles observées en occident, certains regroupements de salariés opérés en fonction de la manière dont ils combinent ces dimensions sont en revanche spécifiques. Ces profils originaux sont ceux dominés par a) la compatibilité des différents temps sociaux, b) par la qualité des relations aux collègues et au manager, et enfin, c) par des rapports favorables aux temps sociaux et à l’environnement matériel de travail. Ainsi, les pratiques managériales préconisées pour développer toutes les dimensions du bien-être du personnel occidental pourraient ne pas être efficaces dans les établissements employant un personnel japonais..

  • bien-être au travail
  • contingence
  • Japon
  • structure factorielle
  • profils
Sophie Szymkowiak
Sophie SZYMKOWIAK is an associate professor of Economics and Management at the IUT Littoral Côte d’Opale, LEM UMR 9221. A former auditor at ENS Cachan, she holds a Master’s degree in Innovation Strategies and Entrepreneurial Dynamics and a Master’s degree in Private Law. She is currently a doctoral student in Management Sciences at the University of Littoral Côte d’Opale, under the supervision of Jordane Creusier. For the past ten years, she has been interested in the literature on organizational justice, intercultural team management and the valorization of public research. In the framework of her doctoral thesis, her work focuses on organizational involvement, well-being at work and social network analysis.
Jordane Creusier
Jordane CREUSIER, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Littoral Côte d’Opale, LEM UMR 9221, in the Economics and Management Department. He is in charge of the master’s degree in SME-SMI management. His work focuses mainly on organizational behavior and more particularly on well-being at work and involvement. He is also very interested in the methodological aspects of research. He has also been a quality manager in the food industry. His work has been published in journals rated A by the HCERES such as Organizational Research Method, M@n@gement, Revue de gestion des Ressources Humaines and Management international.
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