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The Changing Japanese Multinational: Application, Adaptation and Learning in Car Manufacturing and Financial Services


  • Richard Whitley
  • William Kelly
  • Diana Sharpe


The combination of increasingly international operations, the continuing domestic recession, and the gradual opening of the Japanese economy to foreign investment might be expected to change many features of Japanese multinational companies. In particular, the level and mode of central control of overseas units, especially their reliance on expatriate managers, could change as firms become more willing to use foreign subsidiaries as sources of innovation and learning rather than as delivery pipelines for domestically designed and developed products. These changes are more likely in sectors dominated by non-Japanese firms, such as international financial services. Interviews with managers of 14 Japanese manufacturing and financial service firms in the UK and Japan confirmed substantial differences in their internationalization patterns in the 1990s, both between and within sectors. Car manufacturers in particular invested major resources in transferring significant features of their domestic operations to UK units, usually with expatriate managers, and one was investing in developing an international cadre of managers. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Whitley & William Kelly & Diana Sharpe, 2003. "The Changing Japanese Multinational: Application, Adaptation and Learning in Car Manufacturing and Financial Services," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(3), pages 643-672, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:3:p:643-672

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard Whitley, 2002. "Developing innovative competences: the role of institutional frameworks," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 497-528, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hadjimarcou, John & Brouthers, Lance E. & McNicol, Jason P. & Michie, Donald E., 2013. "Maquiladoras in the 21st century: Six strategies for success," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 207-217.
    2. Jos Gamble, 2010. "Transferring Organizational Practices and the Dynamics of Hybridization: Japanese Retail Multinationals in China," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 705-732, June.
    3. Soltani, Ebrahim & Wilkinson, Adrian, 2011. "The Razor's edge: Managing MNC affiliates in Iran," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 462-475, October.
    4. Sharpe, Diana Rosemary, 2006. "Shop floor practices under changing forms of managerial control: A comparative ethnographic study of micro-politics, control and resistance within a Japanese multinational," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 318-339, September.

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