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

  • Lincoln, James R.
  • Guillot, Didier
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    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.

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    Paper provided by Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley in its series Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series with number qt35g695gn.

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    Date of creation: 02 May 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt35g695gn
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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    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. 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 651-71, November.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521453042 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
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