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This book combines a theoretical study of Japan's economic structures and multinational enterprises with a post-modern analysis of the contemporary multinational enterprise. The author considers the appropriateness of the post-modern approach for discussing economic activities, in particular the New Economy, and also Japanese society and culture. Kensy analyses Japan's economic structure, interpreting its methods, strategies and results in a post-modern context and presents a survey of socio-economic development in Japan since the beginning of westernization. He goes on to discuss Japanese models for the transformation of society in the future, with particular reference to the Keiretzu. Finding Japan to be a truly postmodern society, Kensy shows that Japan is prepared to be a leader in the New Economy. Kensy takes an innovative and stimulating approach that will be of interest to those seeking to better understand the development and future of the economic structures of Japan.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

The Framework

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Postmodern modes of thought, Japanese economic structures, multinational Japanese conglomerates, New Economy models: these are the corner stones which define the course this work will follow. In this introduction we take an initial look at these terms, without defining them too precisely, in order to produce an preliminary framework. We will highlight the individual areas more specifically and expound upon them in greater detail, one by one, in the course of the argumentation.

Rainer Kensy

Economics and the Postmodern

Frontmatter

2. Postmodern Principles

As already mentioned in the previous chapter, it is not feasible to present an amoeba-like, formless but, nevertheless, descriptive concept such as postmodernity like a butterfly pinned out in a display case.1 It is equally impossible to provide a detailed history of the term or a fundamental history of the concept, since it is not possible to identify any linearity in the course of the argument, nor is this the aim of postmodernism.2 The dominate discussions within postmodernism concern the issue of the independent existence of postmodernity within or after modernity and the issue of the content of the postmodern debate. Whitehouse aptly comments: ‘Like Postmodernism itself, then, the debate [about it] is a markedly eclectic event.’3

Rainer Kensy

Japan: New or Old — Postmodern all the Same

Frontmatter

3. Postmodern Indicators in Japanese Culture

After presenting a general overview of research on Japan we now examine the country’s cultural aspects, taking into account its postmodern dimension, since this affects economic and social behaviour and economic structures to a far greater extent than in any other country. Because of its special features, it also contributes to the international success of ‘Japan Inc’. As already indicated in Chapter 1, section V, we now examine more closely the thesis that Japan’s culture and tradition have general characteristics which can, from a contemporary perspective, be labelled ‘postmodern’. In this argument, the theory that Japan has always been postmodern only serves to confuse. A more accurate formulation would be that some of Japan’s basic characteristics, developed during its history, are (again) now just as prevalent as prior to Japan’s modernization (during and after the Meiji period, i.e. from 1868), and today hold a special supportive position since they promote precisely the features considered essential for survival in the postmodern era.1 For this reason, it is dangerous to compare premodern, modern and postmodern in a Japanese context, since this would hypothesize a discrete temporal process, which would be inaccurate.2

Rainer Kensy

4. The Structural Environment Surrounding Japan’s Multinational Enterprises — a Driving Force for Change

Having examined the cultural foundations of the postmodernity of Japan in the previous chapter, the main argument in this chapter focuses on fundamental economic strategies. Here, the framework of organization of production is applied as proposed by Best, whose analysis of future Japanese competitiveness was based on three basis elements: culture, strategy and production-organization.1

Rainer Kensy

5. Keiretsu: Japanese Multinational Enterprises and the Postmodern

Chapter 3 concentrated on basic cultural principles, and Chapter 4 on basic Japanese economic strategies. In this chapter we look at the third dimension, which Best perceived as the basis for Japanese competitiveness: the production organization.1 In this context, the term does not refer to management or production techniques, but has now been adapted in the postmodern context to mean a new type of business coordination and structure (particularly in the context of intercompany cooperation). Having described postmodern phenomena collectively in terms of mature social mechanisms and complex social structures, in an everyday economic setting as well as the role of the state and paragovernmental organizations in economic coordination, strategy-making and implementation, we can now examine the extent to which the conclusions reached can also be found at company and group level and then round them off to form a concise picture.

Rainer Kensy

6. Postscript: Bringing it all Together — Postmodern—New Economy Japan—MNE

During the ten years of research that have been the basis of this book, incredible dynamic forces have been reshaping our economic system and even the daily life of nearly everyone. Yet all these various and sometimes confusing elements of energy flow more or less in one direction. Concurrent with the ‘fall’ of the old economy and the necessary deconstruction and regrouping, the postmodern position was the intellectual equivalent (though a bit ahead) to the economic changes. Seen from that perspective, the emergence of a New Economy was the result of three elements: the slowing innovative stride of the old economy; the IT revolution; and the postmodern atmosphere.

Rainer Kensy

Backmatter

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