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Technological leadership and late development: evidence from Meiji Japan, 1868–1912

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  • JOHN P. TANG

Abstract

Large family-owned conglomerates known as zaibatsu have long been credited with leading Japanese industrialization during the Meiji period (1868–1912), despite a lack of empirical analysis. Using a new dataset collected from corporate genealogies to estimate entry probabilities, it is found that characteristics associated with zaibatsu increase a firm's likelihood of being an industry pioneer. In particular, first entry probabilities increase with industry diversification and private ownership, which may provide internal financing and risk‐sharing, respectively. Nevertheless, the costs of excessive diversification may deter additional pioneering, which may account for the loss of zaibatsu technological leadership by the turn of the century.

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  • John P. Tang, 2011. "Technological leadership and late development: evidence from Meiji Japan, 1868–1912," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(s1), pages 99-116, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:64:y:2011:i:s1:p:99-116
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2009.00530.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sussman, Nathan & Yafeh, Yishay, 2000. "Institutions, Reforms, and Country Risk: Lessons from Japanese Government Debt in the Meiji Era," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(02), pages 442-467, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Tang, 2013. "Railroad expansion and entrepreneurship: Evidence from Meiji Japan," AJRC Working Papers 1302, Australia-Japan Research Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    2. John P. Tang, 2016. "A tale of two SICs: Japanese and American industrialisation in historical perspective," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 56(2), pages 174-197, July.
    3. Kazuki Onji & John P. Tang, 2015. "A nation without a corporate income tax: Evidence from nineteenth century Japan," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 15-12, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    4. repec:csg:ajrcwp:02 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Tang, John P., 2015. "The Engine And The Reaper: Industrialization And Mortality In Early Modern Japan," RCESR Discussion Paper Series DP15-10, Research Center for Economic and Social Risks, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    6. repec:nbr:nberch:14056 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Randall Morck & Masao Nakamura, 2018. "Japan's Ultimately Unaccursed Natural Resources-financed Industrialization," NBER Chapters,in: Corporate Governance (NBER-TCER-CEPR Conference) National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Nicholas, Tom, 2011. "The origins of Japanese technological modernization," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 272-291, April.
    9. Tomoko Hashino & Keijiro Otsuka, 2013. "Hand looms, power looms, and changing production organizations: the case of the Kiryū weaving district in early twentieth-century Japan," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(3), pages 785-804, August.

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