Internationalization of Japanese Business Groups – Literature Review

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The internationalization of Japanese business groups (JBG) have been subject to intense scrutiny since JBG shot to world stage in the 1980’s. Studies on the internationalization of JBG have been fragmented in scope and have mainly focused on specific behaviors e.g. mode of market entry, knowledge creation, knowledge flows between headquarters and overseas subsidiaries, overseas market development and sales strategies, to name a few. Little attention has been paid, however, to explaining the reasons behind these behaviors. This literature review aims to contribute to filling this gap by recognizing the internationalization’s embeddedness in the country’s institutional environment, thus providing a more nuanced understanding of the drivers behind these behaviors as well as the intrinsic obstacles that may hinder the outcomes of these internationalization efforts. This study also hopes to answer the theoretical question called for by (Zaheer, Gözübüyük and Milanov, 2010) in their excellent work “It’s the connections: The network perspective in interorganizational research: “How do organizations balance the benefits of trust and embeddedness with the costs of lock-in and inflexibility with the same set of partners?” The holistic perspective of this review has wide ranging managerial implications in terms of effective intra-organizational dialogue, stakeholder management, organizational knowledge management, among others.

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