Journal article written by 1992 Abe Fellow Hiroshi Ishida based on his project “A Comparative Study of Career Dynamics in a Japanese and American Organization.” Co-authors include Seymour Spilerman and Kuo-Hsien Su.
We examine how the process of career advancement in organizations is affected by the quality of educational institutions previously attended by the employees and by employees’ specializations in college. Using detailed employment records of career-track employees in a large Japanese organization and a U.S. organization, we evaluate three assessments of the effect of college quality on promotion chances: (1) The graduates of high-quality institutions have higher cognitive and noncognitive skills, (2) employers use college quality as a “signal” of higher productivity, and (3) the graduates of prestigious institutions enjoy advantageous networks and political alliances among alumni. The results of our analyses suggest that employers use college quality as a “signal” mainly at the beginning of workers’ careers, namely at recruitment in Japan and in promotions at lower levels of the organization in the United States. Our results are also consistent with the hypothesis that the alumni of high-quality institutions have better cognitive and noncognitive skills. Although the effect of college quality was not uniform across all levels of either organization, the skills possessed by employees who graduated from high-quality institutions are probably relevant to job performance at particular levels in the organizational hierarchy.