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Hand looms, power looms, and changing production organizations: the case of the Kiryu weaving district in the early 20th century Japan

  • Tomoko Hashino
  • Keijiro Otsuka

This study finds that the development process of the Kiryu silk weaving district in Japan from 1895 to 1930 can be divided at least into the two phases, i.e., Smithian growth based on the inter-firm division of labor using hand looms and Schumpeterian development based on factory system using power looms. Weaving manufacturers-cum-contractors led Smithian growth by organizing sub-contracts with out-weavers in rural villages and grew faster than factory production systems. Newly emerged joint stock firms played a role of genuine entrepreneurs by realizing significant scale economies. During this new phase, weaving manufacturers-cum-contractors survived and also introduced new production system.

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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 41659.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:41659
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
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  1. Arimoto, Yutaka & Nakajima, Kentaro & Okazaki, Tetsuji, 2011. "Agglomeration or Selection? The Case of the Japanese Silk-Reeling Clusters, 1908-1915," CEI Working Paper Series 2010-11, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  2. George J. Stigler, 1951. "The Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 185.
  3. Minami, Ryoshin, 1977. "Mechanical Power in the Industrialization of Japan," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 37(04), pages 935-958, December.
  4. Jones, S. R. H., 1987. "Technology, Transaction Costs, and the Transition to Factory Production in the British Silk Industry, 1700–1870," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 71-96, March.
  5. Tomoko Hashino & Takafumi Kurosawa, 2011. "Beyond Marshallian Agglomeration Economies: The Roles of the Local Trade Association in a Meiji Japan Weaving District (1868-1912)," Discussion Papers 1113, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
  6. Minami, Ryoshin & Makino, Fumio, 1983. "Conditions for Technological Diffusion : Case of Power Looms," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 23(2), pages 1-20, February.
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