Message from the faculty (Course of International Tourism Management Prof. Yoshihiko Iijima)

Graduate school is like a general hospital.

(Updated in December 2018)


Q. What made you choose an academic career path and become a faculty member?

Before I joined the university faculty, I worked for a company and was in charge of the development and management of hotels and commercial facilities. However, there were few books and materials that I could refer to for my work at that time. Therefore, I conducted my work through a trial-and-error process while at the same time feeling anxious about whether what I was doing was correct or not. Although the service sector has produced more than 60% of Japan's GDP and more than 70% of the workforce is engaged in that sector, accumulation of academic knowledge on the service sector that matches the situation in Japan is insufficient. I realized that this was why many people were feeling the same anxiety as I did when working. I thought that if there was no accumulation of academic knowledge on the service sector, I would have to construct a knowledge base myself. So I chose to become a researcher to help people engaged in the service sector.

Q. What are your specialized fields of research? Please describe major topics you have pursued.

There is an academic discipline called Service Marketing and Management. Unlike manufacturing, production and consumption of services occur simultaneously. Moreover, with service businesses, customers often get involved in the production process. For example, customers select their hair style at beauty salons or serve themselves at self-service restaurants. That generates marketing and management issues that are specific to services. Service Marketing and Management examine these issues. I started my research career in this academic discipline and had conducted research targeted mainly at hotels and restaurants. In the service sector, especially the hospitality industry, employees play a pivotal role, and they become motivated and work hard to gain trust from customers, which contributes to the prosperity of the businesses. Thus, I changed my research focus to Human Resource Management, which deals with human problems. As employees are not machines but humans with hearts and minds, knowledge of psychology is required to manage them. That is why I currently conduct research that incorporates psychology into Human Resource Management.

Q. Tell us about the negatives and positives you have had as a researcher. 

Ten years after I began working, I entered graduate school. As I earned a Master's degree in business administration (MBA), I had never written a thesis. When I was in my late 30's, I went on to the Doctoral course where classes focused mainly on doctoral dissertation guidance. Although I did not know how to write a dissertation, I hesitated to seek help from my instructor. I tried to understand how to write a dissertation by reading the dissertations of others, especially those written by British and American researchers. Students in the Master’s course joined classes in the Doctoral course, and other students attending classes were younger than me. When some of those students pointed out that my dissertation was poor, I was so ashamed and embarrassed. Those days were the hardest time for me.

On the other hand, I was fortunate to have a good supervising instructor at graduate school. The instructor corrected my dissertation again and again with a red pen and returned it to me. Whenever I received it, I checked the corrected parts and asked myself why he corrected those particular parts. By repeating the process, I finally mastered how to write a dissertation and conduct research. I am grateful to my instructor, as I owe what I am today to him.

Q. What do you think are the key benefits of studying at a graduate school?

Graduate school is like a general hospital. A general hospital is staffed with physicians with high expertise in each field, and provides appropriate treatment to patients according to their symptoms. Like a general hospital, graduate schools provide appropriate instructions and guidance to students according to their research themes and methods. Although research can be conducted individually, the comprehensiveness of graduate schools is their biggest appeal.

 Students who learn with you stimulate and inspire you. There is a proverb that says, “one man's fault is another's lesson.” It is difficult for you to understand your own weaknesses and strengths, but it is easier for you to understand yourself through others. It is also one of the appeals of studying at graduate school.

 

Q. Would you give some advice to potential applicants of graduate courses?

I have a piece of advice especially for working professionals who are considering studying at graduate school. When they study at graduate school, they tend to choose a research theme related to their work, and so did I. There is nothing wrong with that choice, but it is a big challenge to consider how to conduct research. It seems that many working adult students do not know the specific steps that need to be taken in conducting their research, and waste their first year.

It is OK if you have experience writing an undergraduate thesis. However, if you don't, you need to consider how to conduct your research, including the presence or absence of existing research dealing with your research theme, and the necessary studies and research that need to be conducted when choosing your research theme.

There is an auditing program at graduate school, which is a kind of trial enrollment. I recommend this program to working adults. This program allows you to reconsider your research theme after receiving some advice from teaching staff before you formally enroll, in addition to offering the opportunity to take classes at graduate school. As the course credits earned as auditor transfer to the regular credits required for graduation when you enroll as a regular student in graduate school, your efforts will be rewarded. Please consider the auditing program.

 

Profile:

Name: Yoshihiko Iijima

Education and employment background:

I had worked for a private railway company for 20 years after graduating from university, engaging in the development of commercial and hotel facilities. Thereafter, I moved to Toyo University in 1999 and am now in charge of the Master's and Doctoral programs at the graduate school there.

Research field: Service Management and Marketing, Hotel Management, Human Resource Management, Social Psychology

Publications:

Yoshihiko Iijima, A Study on Service Management, Japan, Bunshindo Publishing Corporation, 2001

Yoshihiko Iijima, Gender diversity, multi-level career ladder system and human resource management: a case study of Japanese full-service hotel companies, Japan, Gakubunsha, 2011