Within the economic growth of Southeast Asian countries since the late 1960s, multinational corporations (MNC) have played a crucial role by providing investments from abroad and thus the needed capital and technology. However, the economic crisis in Southeast Asia that started in 1997 has put a sudden end to the period of growth that had continued nearly without interruption for more than 30 years. This situation has called in question many of the premises underlying the engagement of MNCs in these countries and will lead to a strategic reorientation of these firms.
Considering the uniqueness of this constellation, any predictions on the behavior of MNCs in this region are obstructed by the lack of empirical experience and theoretical knowledge. Therefore, the objective of this conference is to compare differences and similarities in Japanese and European firms' responses to the economic crisis in Southeast Asia with a focus on organizational changes in the areas of production, marketing and corporate finance. With almost two years into the crisis, the conference is timed so as to be able to analyze short- and medium-term reactions and to make predictions about future developments. A European-Japanese comparison will allow, it is hoped, to arrive at more general conclusions regarding the functioning and nature of multinational corporations operating in industrializing countries, while at the same time assessing the character and extent of any remaining national differences that may have an impact on these firms' behavior. From the point of view of the receiving countries, analyses such as these are important in order to better forecast the macroeconomic impact of sudden growth declines on the general investment and employment situation.