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Network analysis of Japanese global business using quasi-exhaustive micro-data for Japanese overseas subsidiaries


  • Jean-Pascal Bassino
  • Pablo Jensen
  • Matteo Morini


Network analysis techniques remain rarely used for understanding international management strategies. Our paper highlights their value as research tool in this field of social science using a large set of micro-data (20,000) to investigate the presence of networks of subsidiaries overseas. The research question is the following: to what extent did/do global Japanese business networks mirror organizational models existing in Japan? In particular, we would like to assess how much the links building such business networks are shaped by the structure of big-size industrial conglomerates of firms headquartered in Japan, also described as HK. The major part of the academic community in the fields of management and industrial organization considers that formal links can be identified among firms belonging to HK. Miwa and Ramseyer (Miwa and Ramseyer 2002; Ramseyer 2006) challenge this claim and argue that the evidence supporting the existence of HK is weak. So far, quantitative empirical investigation has been conducted exclusively using data for firms incorporated in Japan. Our study tests the Miwa-Ramseyer hypothesis (MRH) at the global level using information on the network of Japanese subsidiaries overseas. The results obtained lead us to reject the MRH for the global dataset, as well as for subsets restricted to the two main regions/countries of destination of Japanese foreign investment. The results are robust to the weighting of the links, with different specifications, and are observed in most industrial sectors. The global Japanese network became increasingly complex during the late 20th century as a consequence of increase in the number of Japanese subsidiaries overseas but the key features of the structure remained rather stable. We draw implications of these findings for academic research in international business and for professionals involved in corporate strategy.

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  • Jean-Pascal Bassino & Pablo Jensen & Matteo Morini, 2017. "Network analysis of Japanese global business using quasi-exhaustive micro-data for Japanese overseas subsidiaries," Papers 1707.05699,
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1707.05699

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jean McGuire & Sandra Dow, 2009. "Japanese keiretsu: Past, present, future," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 333-351, June.
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    3. Nakamura, Masao, 2002. "Mixed ownership of industrial firms in Japan: debt financing, banks and vertical keiretsu groups," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 231-247, September.
    4. Miwa, Yoshiro & Ramseyer, J. Mark, 2006. "The Fable of the Keiretsu," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226532707.
    5. Belderbos, Rene & Carree, Martin, 2002. "The Location of Japanese Investments in China: Agglomeration Effects, Keiretsu, and Firm Heterogeneity," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 194-211, June.
    6. Yamashita, Nobuaki & Matsuura, Toshiyuki & Nakajima, Kentaro, 2014. "Agglomeration effects of inter-firm backward and forward linkages: Evidence from Japanese manufacturing investment in China," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 24-41.
    7. Weinstein, David E & Yafeh, Yishay, 1995. "Japan's Corporate Groups: Collusion or Competitive? An Empirical Investigation of Keiretsu Behavior," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 359-376, December.
    8. Yoshiro Miwa & J. Mark Ramseyer, 2005. "The Good Occupation," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-340, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    9. Maureen Kilkenny & Nerys Fuller-Love, 2014. "Network analysis and business networks," International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 21(3), pages 303-316.
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