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Organization and Governance of the Japanese Enterprises in the 20th Century

  • 중앙사론
  • 2011, (34), pp.45-81
  • Publisher : Institute for Historical Studies at Chung-Ang University
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

YEO Inman 1

1강릉원주대학교

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ABSTRACT

The Zaibatsu known as an idiosyncratic corporate organization in Japan is a variant of European holding company which is modified to fit into Japanese social and historic tradition. Before the World War II, the necessity of prohibiting monopoly was not prevailed in Japan as was the case of Europe. After the War, economic system in Japan became Americanized due to reform policies imposed by the SCAP (Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers), which entailed a dissolution of Zaibatsu. Later, a new form of business group emerged to cope with increasing hostile acquisitions, and it has contributed to rapid growth of Japanese economy up until 1980s. In terms of corporate governance structure, the power of shareholders was strong in Japanese companies before WWII. Nonetheless, as is the case of typical Zaibatsu, the power of the managerial class was secured to some extent. (so called the age of limited managerial enterprises) After WWII, business groups in the absence of control tower which existed before the War such as holding company or family members of the founder took the function of stabilizing shareholdership mainly through cross- shareholding, thereby enhancing independence of the management. (the age of managers)The burst of bubble economy followed by the long-term recession weakened and/or dissolved the existing business groups, thus the Anti-Trust Law was modified as the global competition intensified. In this context, the establishment of pure holding company which was prohibited for a long period of time since WWII was permitted. In conclusion, the unique organizational and governance structure of Japanese corporation stemmed not only from the global universality, but also from distinctive features based on Japanese history and culture. If we look at the recent changes, the conventional logic of Japanese corporate idiosyncrasy should be rectified. Business organization though it is said to be originated from indigenous socio-historic background can only function and maintain when it exert economic efficiency in particular times.

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