Journal Name: Asian Business & Management: June 2006, Volume 5, Number 2
The 'Lost Decade' and Japanese Business Studies (pp167–185)
D Eleanor Westney (E52-542 MIT, 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.)
The 1990s have been branded 'Japan's Lost Decade' - a period of missed opportunities for Japanese policy-makers and corporate leaders. It was also a difficult time for Japanese business studies - as a field we missed significant opportunities to examine systematically the many critiques of the Japanese business system, and to develop a research agenda that would provide general insights into change processes in business systems. This paper proposes evolutionary theory as one vehicle for understanding and assessing the basic assumptions of many of the critiques of Japan's business system produced over the last decade. It suggests that the concepts of variation, selection and retention can provide fruitful guides to research topics, and proposes that the field of Japanese business studies should work to re-establish Japan's longstanding role as a 'critical case' in social science.
Keywords: Japanese business system, evolutionary theory, selection processes, variation
Japanese Mini-Banks: Retail Banking Services through Convenience Stores (pp187–206)
William V Rapp (School of Management, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights, Room CAB 3020, Newark, NJ 07102, USA.) and Mazhar Islam (Carson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Room 3-365, Twin Cities, 321 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.)
This paper analyzes how leading Japanese convenience stores (CVS) have organized themselves over the last two decades to offer services more typical of retail banks. These stores act as mini-banks and offer loan repayments, utility bill collections, online purchase payments, funds transfers and credit cards. In addition, most stores offer more sophisticated financial services through automated teller machines and multimedia kiosks, often leveraging partner relationships. The main drivers in the evolution of mini-banks are CVS' strength in the strategic application of information technology, opportunities in the Japanese financial sector resulting from a series of government-initiated reforms and the continued weakness of many Japanese banks following the collapse of the Bubble. Leading CVS have strategically combined these drivers in developing their mini-banks, while exploiting their 24 7 advantage. This mini-bank model creates value for CVS in three ways. First, it generates commissions from financial transactions. Second, it increases store traffic. Finally, it enhances customer loyalty through unique services for which customers come back to a particular CVS chain. This different business model thus potentially offers an interesting banking paradigm that could be replicated in other parts of the world if similar environments and opportunities exist. 7-Eleven appears to be experimenting with this in the US.
Keywords: convenience store, retail banking, information technology, deregulation, Japanese banking
Subsidiary Formation in the Japanese Service Sector (pp207–223)
Kiyohiko Ito (University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2404 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.) and Elizabeth L Rose (Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand.)
The resource-based view of the firm has historically focused on resources and performance within individual corporations. In this paper, we extend the applicability of this framework by using it to consider resources beyond the organizational boundaries of a single firm. Employing the resource-based perspective, we discuss the nature of how corporate families are formed in Japan, suggesting that the creation of subsidiaries is an efficient way to make use of productive resources and competencies outside the boundaries of the parent firm, and to nurture them in a different environment. This paper focuses on issues related to quantity in subsidiary creation, rather than the quality of subsidiary management in this organizational arrangement. Our empirical results suggest that larger parent companies, with more productive employees, tend to create more subsidiaries, after controlling for the parent's sales growth and age.
Keywords: subsidiary formation, Japan, spin-offs, corporate resources
Market and Learning Structures for Gaining Competitive Advantage: An Empirical Study of Two Perspectives on Multiunit-Multimarket Organizations (pp225–247)
Hitoshi Mitsuhashi and Hisaki Yamaga (Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tennoudai 1-1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8573, Japan.)
There have been two approaches in the field of organization research and strategic management that account for the competitive advantage of multiunit-multimarket (MUMM) organizations. The multimarket-strategy perspective asserts the importance of patterns of competitive rivalry and structures of markets in which MUMM organizations are embedded. The multiunit-organization perspective, on the other hand, asserts that patterns of organizational learning are an important ingredient in our understanding of competitive advantage. Given the dominant presence of global corporations and international chains that operate multiple units in multiple global markets, it is important to advance our understanding of mechanisms that advantage MUMM organizations. We have built hypotheses to predict the competitive advantage of independent and chain-affiliated hotels in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Our analysis of the hotels' rack rate reveals effects of multimarket contacts and population density, and effects of local market knowledge, operational experience of large organizations, and temporal intervals of critical learning events. The result suggests that the two perspectives both offer substantial insights about the competitive advantage of MUMM organizations. The findings also imply that international major hotel chains planning to enter the Tokyo market may be subject to competitive threats caused by a lack of multimarket contacts and the limited adaptability to local market conditions arising from extensive non-local experience.
Keywords: competitive advantage, multimarket contact, density dependence, organizational learning, multiunit-multimarket organizations
Why is R&D Internationalization in Japanese Firms so Low? A Path-Dependent Explanation (pp249–269)
John Cantwell (Rutgers Business School, 111 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102-3027, USA and University of Reading, PO Box 218, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AA, UK.) and Yanli Zhang (Rutgers Business School, 111 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102-3027, USA.)
This article investigates the pattern of R&D internationalization in Japanese-owned firms by analyzing data on their patenting. Three themes emerge from the study. First, the international technology sourcing of Japanese-owned firms has been shown to focus on technological fields that are central to the current technological paradigm. Second, Japanese-owned firms have diversified their technological base through international technology sourcing. However, third and most importantly, Japan has a very low level of R&D internationalization, out of line with what is typical of a technologically advanced country. This is explained by Japan's strong domestic inter-firm networks, which have constrained Japanese-owned firms from internationalizing their R&D. A path-dependent explanation is given here, showing that the reason these domestic inter-firm networks have become so deeply embedded in Japanese institutions and so hard to change is because they were a great source of strength during Japan's earlier 'catch-up' experience.
Keywords: R&D internationalization, Japan, keiretsu networks, institutions, international technology sourcing, technological diversification
Cross-Border Linkages in Research and Development: Evidence from 22 US, Asian and European MNCs (pp271–298)
Takabumi Hayashi (College of Business, Rikkyo University, 3-34, Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-Ku, Tokyo, Japan.) and Manuel G Serapio (Business School, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Campus Box 165, PO Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364, USA.)
This paper shows the steady internationalization of R&D activities and the expansion of cross-border linkages in R&D in 22 US, European, Japanese and Korean electric-electronic multinational companies (MNCs). In contrast to previous studies that have emphasized input factors to measure the internationalization of R&D, this study focuses on output measures, namely, the roles played by overseas R&D facilities of MNCs in US patenting activities and the publication of scientific papers. Using these measures, this study demonstrates that globalization and networking of R&D activities by these MNCs have progressed both in terms of basic and industrial applications.
Keywords: international R&D, R&D networks, comparative R&D, international patenting activity
(This journal is available online: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/abm)
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