SOAS University of London

School of Finance and Management

Management in Japan 1: Economic Development and Business Environment in Japan

Module Code:

This module examines the development of post-war Japan from an economic and business perspective, setting a framework for a detailed analysis of Japanese business practice within the context of contemporary socio-economic issues. Key topics covered in the module include the post-WWII evolution of Japanese managerial systems and business organisation, an evaluation of Japanese firms and the employment system, the role of the public and private sector in economic development, and case studies of key business sectors in contemporary Japan. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The overall objectives of the course are to:

  • describe, explain and analyse the main features of the Japanese business environment
  • analyse the characteristics of firms, government-firm relationships and inter-firm relationships in Japan
  • examine case-studies illustrating structures and strategies of Japanese firms
  • consider the implications of changes in the business world and firm environment for managerial strategies and choices

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • explain the key distinctive features of Japan's geography, chronology of development and of macroeconomic performance, and governmental policies, as a context for business evolution
  • analyse the characteristics of Japanese firm types
  • analyse the evolution of interfirm relationships in Japan, including keiretsu and subcontracting systems
  • contrast firm types and interfirm relations in Japan with those in other advanced capitalist countries
  • discuss the importance of foreign trade and the development of general trading companies to Japan
  • discuss with examples the evolution of large-scale manufacturing in Japan
  • discuss the evolution of government-business relations in Japan and explain the particular significance of MITI to Japan's industrial development


This module consists of a 2-hour weekly lecture over 10 weeks of term plus a revision lecture in term 3 as preparation for the final examination. Students will be supplied with a syllabus with a breakdown week by week of required and additional reading. Reading materials are usually accessed electronically from the BLE and students should come to class prepared.

This module also has a weekly 1-hour tutorial where the questions posed by the tutor relevant to the lecture are explored and discussed by the students. Students also prepare and deliver a short presentation.

Total Work load:
Students on this module will have 3 taught hours each week. Additionally, adequate personal study time should be allocated for reading and class preparation.

Method of assessment

Assessment for this module is in three elements:

  1. One tutorial presentation at 10%
  2. One essay of 2,500 words at 30%
  3. One unseen 2-hour written examination at 60%

All elements except the presentation may be resubmitted

Suggested reading



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules