SOAS University of London

School of Finance and Management

Management in Japan I

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Term 1

This core course introduces students to key features of the Japanese business system. It examines the development of modern Japan from an economic and managerial perspective, setting a framework for a detailed analysis of Japanese business practice and contemporary socio-economic issues.

Key topics covered in the course 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.

A key aim of the course is to give a detailed examination of the Japanese business environment and its long-run historical evolution, thereby providing an essential framework from which to analyse current financial and economic challenges facing Japanese business.

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

Method of assessment

Assessment for this course is by one tutorial presentation at 10%; an essay of 4,000 words at 30%; an unseen written examination at 60% of the total grade; all elements except the presentation may be resubmitted

Suggested reading

  • Blomström, Gangnes & La Croix eds. (2001). Japan’s New Economy: continuity and change in the twenty-first century. Oxford University Press.
  • Flath, David (2005). The Japanese Economy. Oxford University Press.
  • Miwa, Yoshiro & Mark. J. Ramseyer (2006). The fable of the keiretsu: urban legends of the Japanese economy. University of Chicago Press.
  • Nakamura, Masao ed. (2004). Changing Japanese business, economy and society: globalization of post-bubble Japan. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Rebick, Marcus (2005). The Japanese Employment System: adapting to a new economic environment. Oxford University Press


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules