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The evolution of Japanese keiretsu networks: A review and text network analysis of their perceptions in economics

Artur F. Tomeczek

Japan and the World Economy, 2022, vol. 62, issue C

Abstract: The article aims to show how keiretsu networks have functioned, evolved, and influenced the economy of Japan over the decades. The main research method used is an in-depth literature review, while a bibliometric analysis and the path-dependence framework support it in the selection of relevant material. The keiretsu predecessors were the zaibatsu – large family-controlled conglomerates that came into prominence during the Meiji Period. The two traditional types of keiretsu are horizontal (financial) networks and vertical (industrial) networks. The key elements of the keiretsu system are the main banks, sōgō shōsha, shachō-kai (for horizontal keiretsu), and kyōryoku-kai (for vertical keiretsu). Text network analysis reveals four main themes in the literature: “Japan and the global economy,” “financial institutions of Japan,” “the theory of the keiretsu,” and “the characteristics of the Japanese firms.” The keiretsu had a positive influence on the Japanese economy during the post-war period of high economic growth. As the economy of Japan slowed down in the 1990 s, the gains from keiretsu membership became less unequivocal – which prompted a wave of mergers and modernization.

Keywords: Keiretsu; Zaibatsu; Business networks; Business groups; Main bank; Governance; Text network (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D2 D8 L1 L2 N2 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.japwor.2022.101132

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