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Coordination Under Uncertain Conditions : An Analysis of the Fukushima Catastrophe


  • Masahiko Aoki

    (Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI))

  • Geoffrey Rothwell


This paper analyzes the impacts of the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, which were amplified by a failure of coordination across the plant, corporate, industrial, and regulatory levels, resulting in a nuclear catastrophe, comparable in cost to Chernobyl. It derives generic lessons for industrial structure and regulatory frame of the electric power industry by identifying the two shortcomings of a horizontal coordination mechanism : instability under large shock and the lack of “defense in depth.†The suggested policy response is to harness the power of “open-interface-rule-based modularity†by creating an independent nuclear safety commission and an independent system operator owning the transmission grids in Japan. We propose a transitory price mechanism that can restrain price volatility while providing investment incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Masahiko Aoki & Geoffrey Rothwell, 2011. "Coordination Under Uncertain Conditions : An Analysis of the Fukushima Catastrophe," Governance Working Papers 23220, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:eab:govern:23220

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ricardo Alonso & Wouter Dessein & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "When Does Coordination Require Centralization?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 145-179, March.
    2. Aoki, Masahiko, 2010. "Corporations in Evolving Diversity: Cognition, Governance, and Institutions," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199218530, June.
    3. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Toward an Economic Model of the Japanese Firm," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 18, pages 315-341 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Ricardo Alonso & Wouter Dessein & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "When Does Coordination Require Centralization? Corrigendum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1195-1196, June.
    5. Rothwell, Geoffrey, 1996. "Organizational Structure and Expected Output at Nuclear Power Plants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(3), pages 482-488, August.
    6. Masahiko Aoki & Hirokazu Takizuwa, 2013. "Information, Incentives, and Option Value: The Silicon Valley Model," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 7, pages 72-104 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Horizontal vs. Vertical Information Structure of the Firm," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 5, pages 57-58 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. n/a, 2003. "Book Reviews," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 151-159.
    9. Bushnell, James & Hobbs, Benjamin F. & Wolak, Frank A., 2009. "When It Comes to Demand Response, Is FERC Its Own Worst Enemy?," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 22(8), pages 9-18, October.
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    More about this item


    Japan; coordination mechanism; horizontal coordination mechanism; Fukushima;

    JEL classification:

    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L43 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Legal Monopolies and Regulation or Deregulation
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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