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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #178: December 10, 2004

Asian Business & Management

Journal Name: Asian Business & Management: December 2004, Volume 3, Number 4


Whatever Happened to 'the Japanese Model'? (pp371 - 393)
Kevin McCormick (School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SN, UK.)
Japanese institutions no longer enjoy their awesome reputation of the 1980s and the heyday of 'learning from Japan'. Japan's relatively poor economic performance through the 1990s has brought criticism and calls for reform. Does this mean the end of 'the Japanese model' of business and management? This paper will argue: (1) that there was not one but several models of Japanese business and management; (2) that this variety reflected the variety of purposes and interests of the creators of the models; (3) that accounts of the Japanese model are being revised in the light of current reform attempts; (4) that dismissal of Japanese business and management is premature, that current reforms are unlikely to lead to a simple adoption of the 'Anglo-Saxon model' in Japan, and that the variety of Japanese business and management practices are more likely to be seen in terms of a variety of Japanese models rather than a singular model of Japanese organization.

Keywords: Japanese management; Japanese employment system; Japanese production system

Continuity and Change in Paths to High Political Office: Ex-Bureaucrats and Hereditary Politicians in Japan (pp395 - 416)
Chikako Usui (Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA.) and Richard A Colignon (Department of Sociology, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA.)
This paper examines two dominant paths to national political office in order to assess the degree of changes in Japanese politics. Ex-bureaucrats in political office (seikai tenshin) and hereditary politicians (seshu giin) make up a high percentage of prime ministers, cabinet members, and holders of elected positions in the Lower House of the Diet as well as in the Liberal Democratic Party. The percentage of seikai tenshin politicians has remained relatively stable, while that of seshu giin rose dramatically, pointing toward a narrowing of channels to high political office. Although it is well known that seshu giin represents a form of personalistic politics, it is less well known that over 60 per cent of cabinet members and almost 60 per cent of LDP Lower House members came through one of these two channels at the 2003 election. We maintain that the rise of seshu giin is related to koenkai, while hereditary politicians represent a bridging channel between local interests and the central government. This channel serves to illustrate the permeability of Japan's civil society and its state.

Keywords: Japanese politics; hereditary politicians; electoral reform; civil society

Markets Nurture Relationships: Changing Relationship Patterns of Japanese GTCs in the Post-bubble Era (pp417 - 434)
Tom Roehl (Department of Management, Western Washington University, Parks Hall 351, Bellingham, WA 98225-9075 USA.)
Japanese General Trading Companies (GTCs) have faced significant changes in their business environment, with more open markets and more internationally experienced trading partners. We investigate here some of the specific contractual changes that the firms have made in order to respond to, and more importantly take advantage of, the changed environment. The literature in economics, organization theory and political science has paid insufficient attention to the effects of change on the nature of business relationships. Firms are usually modelled as able to change very quickly, or alternativelyžand sometimes simultaneouslyžincapable of adjusting to new environments. GTCs can use the change to craft new relationships and, however imperfectly, adjust to the new environment. Their accumulated relation-specific information is the source of flexibility. Using information from two sets of interviews of trading company managers, we show that seemingly out-of-date relationships can have embedded in them information-based resources that allow these institutions to take advantage of new situations. Newly developed and more open markets can paradoxically lead to new and even more complex trading company relationships. Markets and hierarchies are not always substitutes. Trading firms use their 'out-of-date' relationship and information resources in the new environment as well.

Keywords: general trading companies; Japanese business; business institutions; business relationships

Cooperating to Compete: Determinants of a Sanctuary Strategy among Japanese Firms (pp435 - 457)
Ulrike Schaede (Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.)
This paper addresses the puzzle inherent in cooperative export strategies: to be successful, firms have to cooperate in one market in order to compete in another. Such strategies are exemplified by export associations on the one hand, frequent in the early 20th century and first regulated by the US Webb-Pomerene Act in 1918, and by the sanctuary strategy on the other, whereby companies maintain prices at home and price their products aggressively abroad. This paper discusses the sanctuary strategy as employed by Japanese firms in the 1990s, in light of multimarket contact theory (Barnett and Carroll, 1993, Barnett et al., 1994), and makes a first step to a better understanding of the foundations of this strategy by looking at data collected on Japanese industries in 1995. The paper tests standard notions of cooperation and collusion and also develops new hypotheses to analyze the relevance of internal features of trade associations for self-regulation. The results suggest a set of specific industry and organizational indicators of domestic cooperation. As companies in other Asian countries as well as in transition economies engage in cooperative export strategies to increase competitiveness, these indicators provide a useful tool in determining the likelihood of domestic cooperation that makes such strategies possible.

Keywords: sanctuary strategy; export associations; multimarket contact; trade associations; cooperation; cartels; Japan

Changing Paradigms for Japanese Technology Policy: SMEs, Universities, and Biotechnology (pp459 - 478)
Leonard H Lynn and Reiko Kishida (Department of Marketing and Policy Studies, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-7235, USA.)
In the 1980s and early 1990s, major US government studies and popular press reports argued that Japanese firms were about to take the lead in the biotechnology industry, following a pattern established in the semiconductor and other industries where large Japanese firms had led the way in commercializing radically new technologies such as the transistor. The Japanese model included coordination by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) or, occasionally, other ministries. New technology was often developed by government-subsidized research cooperatives made up of leading firms. Large firms commercialized the new technology, supported by financing from keiretsu banks and the development of complementary technologies by partner firms. If start-up firms in the US or elsewhere developed relevant technologies, the Japanese bought them. It soon became clear, however, that the US model, linking universities, venture capital-backed start-ups, and large firms, was outperforming the Japanese model in biotechnology. The Japanese undertook reforms to make their system more like that of the US. This paper describes these changes and makes a preliminary assessment of their success.

Keywords: biotechnology industry; Japanese technology; technology policy; technology transfer

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