Japanese organizations are characterized by ‘finely graded hierarchies and narrow spans of control’. They are likely to be smaller, more specialized and less decentralized and multi-divisional than U.S. firms. Even so it is possible to observe status rankings which relate only loosely to decision making and responsibility.
This ‘fine-grained’ system may have a positive effect on motivation, providing a clear career path for lifetime employees. It also may help reduce conflict that arises from status polarization.
Example: From a comparative study of Japanese and U.S. factories.
Source: Lincoln, J.R. (1989). Employee work attitudes and management practice in the U.S. and Japan: evidence from a large comparative survey. California Management Review, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp.89-106.