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Case
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Reference no. 403-068-1
Published by: IBS Case Development Center
Published in: 2003

Abstract

The Japanese word 'karoshi' means 'death from overwork'. The first reported case of karoshi was in 1969. The victim, a 29-year-old male married worker in the shipping department of Japan's largest newspaper succumbed to a stroke. In the 1980s, deaths of several high-ranking business executives still in the prime of their lives were reported. Since then the 'karoshi' phenomenon has drawn media and public attention in Japan. In 1982, a Japanese doctor labelled this phenomenon 'karoshi.' By the 1990s 'karoshi' had become a buzzword. The National Defense Council for the Victims of Karoshi estimated that annually about 10,000 workers were victims of karoshi. Most of the victims died of heart failure and a few are driven to suicide. The main reason for the incidence of karoshi was the disproportionately long working hours in Japan. The main reason for overwork is rooted in the very nature of the Japanese Production Management system itself. The case discusses the evolution of karoshi, overwork and the Japanese Production Management system.
Location:
Other setting(s):
2003

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Abstract

The Japanese word 'karoshi' means 'death from overwork'. The first reported case of karoshi was in 1969. The victim, a 29-year-old male married worker in the shipping department of Japan's largest newspaper succumbed to a stroke. In the 1980s, deaths of several high-ranking business executives still in the prime of their lives were reported. Since then the 'karoshi' phenomenon has drawn media and public attention in Japan. In 1982, a Japanese doctor labelled this phenomenon 'karoshi.' By the 1990s 'karoshi' had become a buzzword. The National Defense Council for the Victims of Karoshi estimated that annually about 10,000 workers were victims of karoshi. Most of the victims died of heart failure and a few are driven to suicide. The main reason for the incidence of karoshi was the disproportionately long working hours in Japan. The main reason for overwork is rooted in the very nature of the Japanese Production Management system itself. The case discusses the evolution of karoshi, overwork and the Japanese Production Management system.

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Location:
Other setting(s):
2003

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