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Revisiting the Roots of Japan's Economic Stagnation: The role of the Japanese corporation

  • Keith Cowling
  • Philip Tomlinson

For a long period in the 20th century, the development of the Japanese corporation appeared congruent with the development of the Japanese economy. The growth-maximising behaviour of the Japanese corporation and the preference for internal growth over acquisitions (see Odagiri, 1992) appeared to suit the long-term ambitions of Japan. Now, that formerly clear connection between the ambitions of corporate Japan and the Japanese public interest is no longer so clear. Increasingly, the global ambitions of the corporation appear as an impediment to Japan's economic development. By favouring the development of large-scale transnational corporations, Japanese industrial policy-making appears to have contained a fundamental flaw. Japan is now dominated by large-scale organisations with global ambitions, controlled by corporate elites. It is unlikely that their strategic decisions will correspond with the wider public interest, which raises the possibility that Japan is now afflicted with 'strategic failure'. Other examples from around the world suggest that Japan is not unique in this respect. Alternative ways forward are suggested.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Review of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 16 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 373-390

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Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:16:y:2002:i:4:p:373-390
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  1. Glyn, Andrew & Rowthorn, Bob, 1988. "West European Unemployment: Corporatism and Structural Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 194-99, May.
  2. Cowling, Keith & Tomlinson, Philip R., 2002. "The Problem Of Regional "Hollowing Out" In Japan : Lessons For Regional Industrial Policy," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 625, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Cowling, Keith & Tomlinson, Philip R, 2000. "The Japanese Crisis--A Case of Strategic Failure?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(464), pages F358-81, June.
  4. Breschi, Stefano & Malerba, Franco, 2001. "The Geography of Innovation and Economic Clustering: Some Introductory Notes," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 817-33, December.
  5. Aoki, Masahiko, 1990. "Toward an Economic Model of the Japanese Firm," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 1-27, March.
  6. Hanazaki, Masaharu & Horiuchi, Akiyoshi, 2000. "Is Japan's Financial System Efficient?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 61-73, Summer.
  7. Best, Michael, 2001. "The New Competitive Advantage: The Renewal of American Industry," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198297451, July.
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