Technological Leadership and Late Development: Evidence from Meiji Japan, 1868-1912

Tang, John P.

Large family-owned conglomerates known as zaibatsu have long been credited with leading Japanese industrialization during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), despite a lack of empirical analysis. I develop a new dataset collected from corporate genealogies and estimate the likelihood of a firm being an industry pioneer with discrete choice econometric methods. I find that certain characteristics associated with zaibatsu increase the likelihood of leading entry into new industries. In particular, first entry probabilities increase with industry diversification and private ownership, which may provide internal financing and risk-sharing. Nevertheless, the costs of excessive diversification may deter additional pioneering, which may account for the loss of zaibatsu technological leadership by the turn of the century.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 278
Published Here
February 15, 2011