IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Business Groups, Networks, And Embeddedness: Innovation And Implementation Alliances In Japanese Electronics, 1985-1998


  • Lincoln, James R.
  • Guillot, Didier


This paper examines the changing process of strategic alliance formation in the Japanese electronics industry between 1985 and 1998. With data on 123-135 Japanese electronics/electrical machinery makers, we use a dyad panel regression methodology to address a series of hypotheses drawn largely from embeddedness theory on how the firms’ horizontal and vertical keiretsu business group affiliations and prior alliance networks supported and constrained partner choice in new R&D (innovation) and nonR&D (implementation) domestic economy alliances. We find that in the first half of our series (1985-91; the “preburst†period) keiretsu served as infrastructure or platform for new strategic alliances that had both innovation and implementation goals. In the second half of our series (1992-98, the “postbubble†period) the keiretsu effects on innovation alliance formation were gone, but the groups’ role in nonR&D or implementation alliances, the purpose of which was often cost reduction, had expanded. Our results suggest that Japanese electronics firms over this interval of time adapted rationally to the heightened uncertainty and stringency of the Japanese domestic economic environment by searching outside their preexisting networks for innovation alliances while at the same time exploiting those networks for implementation alliances addressed to cost-reduction and other operational aims. The study speaks to embeddedness theory in showing that economic actors are not deterministically constrained by business group or other preexisting network ties but may in rational fashion exploit or abandon those ties with an eye to advancing corporate and alliance goals.

Suggested Citation

  • Lincoln, James R. & Guillot, Didier, 2011. "Business Groups, Networks, And Embeddedness: Innovation And Implementation Alliances In Japanese Electronics, 1985-1998," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt35g695gn, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt35g695gn

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christine M. Beckman & Pamela R. Haunschild & Damon J. Phillips, 2004. "Friends or Strangers? Firm-Specific Uncertainty, Market Uncertainty, and Network Partner Selection," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 15(3), pages 259-275, June.
    2. Tarun Khanna & Yishay Yafeh, 2007. "Business Groups in Emerging Markets: Paragons or Parasites?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(2), pages 331-372, June.
    3. Christina Ahmadjian & Joanne Oxley, 2006. "Using Hostages to Support Exchange: Dependence Balancing and Partial Equity Stakes in Japanese Automotive Supply Relationships," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 213-233, April.
    4. Asanuma, Banri, 1989. "Manufacturer-supplier relationships in Japan and the concept of relation-specific skill," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, March.
    5. Lincoln,James R. & Gerlach,Michael L., 2004. "Japan's Network Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521453042, March.
    6. repec:mes:jeciss:v:30:y:1996:i:4:p:1212-1216 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Lee G. Branstetter & Mariko Sakakibara, 2002. "When Do Research Consortia Work Well and Why? Evidence from Japanese Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 143-159, March.
    8. Michael L. Katz, 1986. "An Analysis of Cooperative Research and Development," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(4), pages 527-543, Winter.
    9. Christina L. Ahmadjian & James R. Lincoln, 2001. "Keiretsu, Governance, and Learning: Case Studies in Change from the Japanese Automotive Industry," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(6), pages 683-701, December.
    10. Melissa A. Schilling & Corey C. Phelps, 2007. "Interfirm Collaboration Networks: The Impact of Large-Scale Network Structure on Firm Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(7), pages 1113-1126, July.
    11. Martin Ruef, 2002. "Strong ties, weak ties and islands: structural and cultural predictors of organizational innovation," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 427-449, June.
    12. Sako, Mari, 1996. "Suppliers' Associations in the Japanese Automobile Industry: Collective Action for Technology Diffusion," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(6), pages 651-671, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item



    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt35g695gn. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.