Trends in Japanese management: An overview of embedded continuities and disembedded discontinuities

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Journal Article
Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 2002, 19 (2-3), pp. 269 - 285
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In this paper we consider the accounts of post-war Japan's economic development in terms of a consideration of the argument from 'embeddedness'. We note the dangers implicit in approaches that tend to proffer over-socialized accounts of action and stress the importance of institutionally and organizationally specific levels of analysis. We establish the significance of the immediate post-war period for analysis of Japanese organizations, and look at the continuities and discontinuities in their development up to the present. The paper analyses continuities in terms of the maintenance of a long-term orientation and global vision and that organizations remain both competitive and cooperative. The discontinuities have emerged in the last decade, since the economic ills of Japan became evident. These include a shift from a growth emphasis to the balancing of multiple goals; the emergence of new forms of competitive strategy, in the form of: alliances and cooperation; changing conceptions of careers; relaxation of the centralisation of authority; a shift from lifetime employment to employ ability; larger differentiation of wages and promotion opportunities in the status ladder system, and the increased scope for initiative and consensus. We conclude with some implications of the analysis for future research. © 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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