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Entrepreneurship and Japanese Industrialization in Historical Perspective


  • John Tang


Studies of entrepreneurship in nineteenth century Japan typically focus on the activities of leading industrialists who founded large, family-owned conglomerates known as zaibatsu. These individuals do not conform well with the archetypal Schumpeterian entrepreneur, but this discrepancy may be more an issue of context than behavior. However, due to a lack of documentation for smaller independent firms, it is difficult to make this comparison. To broaden the scope of analysis, I use data drawn from corporate genealogies, which provide a more complete cross-section of entrepreneurial activity. This dataset of firm entry during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) covers a wide range of industries, allowing me to analyze aspects of Japan's early industrialization that heretofore have relied on anecdotal or case evidence. I also propose a game-theoretic model of entry appropriate for entrepreneurs in late developing economies that exploit the qualitative nature of these data.

Suggested Citation

  • John Tang, 2009. "Entrepreneurship and Japanese Industrialization in Historical Perspective," Working Papers 09-30, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:09-30

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Meiji Japan; entrepreneurship; entry model; industrialization; late development; technology adoption; zaibatsu;

    JEL classification:

    • N85 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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