The 1990s is often referred to as the "lost decade" in Japan, where the bursting of the asset bubble economy left it mired in a prolong recession. In contrast, the "new economy" in the United States and Europe was taking off, spearheaded by highly innovative dot-com companies and fueled by a strong bull market. An International Data Corporation report (IDC 2000) paints a more mixed picture, however. Japan's overall information society index score still ranks among the developed countries, but its Internet infrastructure and informatization scores are closer to those found in developing countries. The main research problem informing my presentation, then, is whether Japan lags behind other countries in the diffusion of e-commerce, and what implications does this have for the flagging Japanese economy?
In answering this question, I present findings from a survey of 227 Japanese establishments conducted in collaboration with the Center for Research on Information Technology and Organization (CRITO) at the University of Irvine. In my presentation I highlight some endogenous antecedent factors embedded in Japan's social institutions, such as its political economy (iron triangle) and keiretsu (corporate grouping) business practices, that have historically framed Japan's path to economic development. The grounded results we uncover should provide practical business insights into what went wrong with the formerly heralded Japanese style of management. I add the German case to add a comparative perspective to our discussion.
Dennis S. Tachiki is currently a professor on the Faculty of Business Administration at Tamagawa University. He has published widely in newspapers and journals and given lectures around the world on the Japanese economy and society and Asia regional affairs. The main focus of his current research gravitates around the topics of management strategies of overseas Japanese subsidiaries (ASEAN Secretariat), the diffusion of information technology in Japan (UC Irvine Center for Research on Information Technology and Organization) and East Asia (World Bank), and human resource management/capacity building (Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC).