Working papers and briefing notes

Here you will find working papers produced by members of the New Zealand Asia Institute (NZAI).

Briefing notes

Working papers 2017

Working paper No 17-01
Organizational Culture, Confucian values, and Change: Understanding the cultural shift within South Korean workforces
Hee Sun Kim and Natasha Hamilton-Hart

South Korea’s economy has become more internationally integrated and exposed to the demands of market competition. Concurrently, its workforce has been subject to a series of liberalising reforms aimed at increasing flexibility and productivity. As the structure of the workplace and employment norms have changed, how has the internal culture of Korean business organisations been affected? This study investigates workplace culture, particularly the status and role of Confucian-based cultural norms, in three Korean private sector firms. We find significant variation in the degree to which organisational culture reflects the values and norms of what can be construed as traditional Confucian ideas of hierarchy and loyalty. This variation reflects both the average age of employees and the deliberate efforts of a firm’s management to either uphold or break free from ‘traditional’ organisational culture. Findings suggest that while a strong Confucian-based organisational culture can still elicit high levels of employee commitment and effort, it is increasingly difficult to maintain such a culture. Firms where such a workplace culture is either being eroded or deliberately refashioned are finding alternative ways to manage and engage employees.

Working papers 2016

Working paper No 16-01
The Social Construction of Consumer Trust in High-involvement Brands
Caixia Gan, Denise Conroy, Michael Lee

Consumer trust is a critical factor driving consumption behaviour, particularly after crises like food safety incidents, yet we know relatively little about the dynamics of consumer trust in relation to high-involvement brands in Asian contexts.This working paper is the first part of a longitudinal study on consumer trust in high-involvement brands, in the context of infant formula consumption in urban China. The findings indicate, first, that trust is a social construct that spans the relationship between two parties, one of which   bestows or withholds trust and the other of which is the object of that trust. Second, the findings also show that trust refers to broader social interactions and relations, especially in the initial building of trust. In this case, the report examines the attitudes of inexperienced mothers choosing infant formula brands. We argue that consumers, brands, interpersonal relationships, and social institutions are interacting with each other to develop trust, rather than each functioning as dependent or independent variables in linear causal relationships. Findings also highlight how Chinese parents’ trust in infant formula brands is socially constructed within their social-cultural background, and provides insights that differ from those yielded by previous research conducted in western markets.

Working papers 2013

Working paper No 13-01
TPP and the Future of Food Policy in Japan
Hugh Whittaker, Robert Scollay and John Gilbert
May 2013

The statement by Japan’s then Prime Minister Naoto Kan in October 2010 that Japan would seriously consider participating in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) ignited a debate on the merits of TPP membership for Japan that has continued ever since, furiously at first, and subsequently in more muted tones after the tragedy of the Great Eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami and its aftermath necessarily became overwhelmingly the central preoccupation of politicians, officials, and all sections of Japanese society. New impetus was given to the debate by the announcement at APEC’s November 2011 leaders’ meeting in Hawaii by Prime Minister Yoshihika Noda of Japan’s intention to begin consultations with TPP economies towards joining the TPP negotiations.

The purpose of this report is to explore the connection between TPP and the imperative for agricultural reform, and in so doing to underline the case that a) the Japanese agricultural sector and agriculture policy are in need of reform, regardless of TPP, and b) that with far-reaching reforms (but not incremental ones) the agriculture sector could in fact prosper under trade liberalisation, to the benefit of Japanese society.

Working papers 2012

Working paper No 12-01
China, Southeast Asia and Economic Crises
Nicholas Tarling
June 2012

"Globalisation" may be viewed as a long-term historical process. It can also be seen in two dimensions: The economic changes that have dominated the discourse of the past twenty years; but also the political changes that have made the independent nation-state a world-wide norm, very different though such states may be. The two sets of changes cannot be considered entirely separately. Some attempt to do so, however, help in an analysis of their inter-connexion. Taking both a long-term and a short-term view of the issue in general, this paper particularly focuses on China and Southeast Asia.

Working papers 2011

Working paper No 11-01
Not in New Zealand's waters, surely? Labour and human rights abuses aboard foreign fishing vessels

Christina Stringer, Glenn Simmons and Daren Coulston
September 2011

In August 2010, Oyang 70, a South Korean fishing vessel fishing in New Zealand's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), capsized with the loss of six lives. Beyond the tragedy of the loss of lives, information obtained from the surviving crew detailed labour and other abuses aboard the Oyang 70.

This is not the first allegation of abuse aboard foreign charter vessels (FCV) fishing in New Zealand’s EEZ. New Zealand government policy supports the use of high quality FCVs to complement the local fishing fleet, provided FCVs do not provide a competitive advantage due to lower labour costs and foreign crew receive protection from exploitation. Using the global value chain and global production network analyses, this research examines which institutions are responsible for the working conditions of an important but largely invisible and vulnerable workforce on FCVs in New Zealand waters. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with key individuals in the fisheries industry and with foreign crew. We found within the fisheries value chain there is an institutional void pertaining to labour standards on board FCVs and in some cases disturbing levels of inhumane conditions and practices have become institutionalised.