Is capitalism everywhere driven by the same logic of market forces, contract, and individualistic motivation? Or is Japan different? These eighteen contributions by leading Japanese economists shed light on a number of issues in this increasingly important debate. The variety of perspectives and the range of firms covered—not only the large industrial corporation but cooperatives, public enterprises, and mutual life insurance companies as well—provide a broad overview that few other books on Japanese business can offer. In a new introduction to this English-language edition, Ronald Dore and Hugh Whittaker identify and summarize the salient themes and sharpen the points discussed.
Chapters are grouped into five parts:- Part I identifies characteristics of the typical Japanese firm and the enterprise system.- Part II examines interfirm behavior such as trading, subcontracting, and cross-shareholding in enterprise groups.- Part III describes general firm behavior: how businesses invest in research, equipment, and product development.- Part IV takes a look at the employment system—specifically, competition, deployment of human resources, and the traditional bonus system (a particularly significant feature of Japanese firms that differentiates them from their Western counterparts).- Finally, part V looks at specific kinds of firms: cooperatives, public utilities, and life insurance companies.