This book is not another parable of Japan's economic success; it provides rich and systematic descriptions of Japanese microeconomic institutions and interprets their work in terms familiar to Western economists. A systematic, in-depth analysis of Japanese institutions of this kind has never been available before. In making his comparative analysis of the Japanese system, Professor Aoki critically examines conventional notions about the microstructure of the market economy that have strongly shaped and influenced economists' approach to industrial organization (e.g., hierarchy as the alternative to the market, the firm as a propery of the stockholders, and market-oriented incentive contracts). While these notions may constitute an appropriate foundation for the analysis of the highly market-oriented Western economies, the author has found that a more complete understanding of the Japanese economy requires us to broaden such 'specific' notions. At one level, therefore, this book may be regarded as a provocative exercise in comparative industrial organization and the theory of the firm. To the extent that this approach is convincing, the book suggests a reordering of focus and emphasis in these studies.
1. Introduction; 2. The Information Structure of the J-firm; 3. The Ranking Hierarchy of the J-firm as Incentive Scheme; 4. Corporate Finance, Stockholding Returns and Corporate Governance Structure; 5. Bargaining Game at the J-firm; 6. The Changing Nature of Industrial Organisation; 7. Bureaupluralism; 8. Culture and Economic Rationality.