Masahiko Aoki and Ronald Dore have edited an authoritative account of the Japanese firm and the sources of its success, including contributions from some of the best, and best known, scholars in the field. The book represents an attempt to explain and understand aspects of the firm in the Japanese economic system, and to explain the corporate success of Japan. It is interdisciplinary in approach, containing both theoretical and empirical work, and has contributions from the fields of labour economics, comparative institutional analysis, information economics, finance, organizational theory, economic history, political science, and sociology. Chapters range from contemporary descriptions—of training (in overseas subsidiaries
as well as Japan), of R&D structures, of product development practices, of finance and corporate governance, of trading relations, especially between small and large firms—to an historical overview of the evolution of Japanese management in the wartime planned economy. The book also situates Japan in the literature of economic analysis and in the on-going debate about trade-offs between equality and efficiency. The contemporary media would have us believe that the Japanese system of management—characterized by lifetime employment, emphasis on long-term, slow consensual decision-making, heavy investments in training, R&D, and quality, close inter-enterprise ties, and short rations for shareholders—is in crisis and about to change fundamentally. This book will enable the
reader to decide just how solid the foundations of the Japanese enterprise system are, and to identify the rationale that lies behind it.
Readership: Academic, student, and business economists studying the Japanese firm or Japanese industry and labour markets.
Edited by Masahiko Aoki, Professor, Kyoto University, Japan, and Stanford University, USA, and Ronald Dore, Chair, London School of Economics, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"This is an excellent collection of papers for which the authors, the editors and the conference organizers should be congratulated. I found valuable insights in almost every chapter, and the whole was even better than the sum of its parts. One point that was brought out by a number of authors was what the editors referred to in their introduction as `systemic awareness' - that specific attributes of the Japanese firm should not be considered in isolation, as they are all interrelated elements of a broader system. This book brings together many of these elements, and provides the reader with that vital systemic awareness." - Asia Pacific Business Review
"Many of the papers reflect the use of the new institutional economies to explain the nature of the Japanese firm and the sources of its competitive strength. They also display a laudable attempt to show the dependency between institutions, something which is important, but difficult, to do ... The papers are not only theoretical and empirical studies of the Japanese case, they also often contain a comparative aspect ... the account of the Japanese firm under the wartime planned economy given by Tetsuji Okazaki is fascinating ... higly informative and expertly combines modern approaches to the theory of the firm with empirical studies of a diverse range. I recommend this volume for those interested in the firm, the Japanese firm, and the skilful application of theories of the firm. The
papers will undoubtedly enhance people's knowledge of the Japanese economy, but also stimulate new avenues of enquiry." - Japan Forum
"This is an excellent collection of papers for which the authors, the editors and the conference organizers should be congratulated. I found valuable insights in almost every chapter, and the whole was even better than the sum of its parts." - Asia Pacific Business Review
"'all of the essays are to be highly recommended.'" - Business History
"Fourteen useful papers that attempt to improve our understanding of the role of the firm in the Japanese economic system, as well as explain the corporate success of Japan. I hoipe we will not be required to wait too long for a similar volume that examines the traumas of the past five years. - Long Range Planning. April 1998."