Framing From Afar: External Agents and the Construction of the Japanese Ji-Buru Industry

Ahmadjian, Christina; Edman, Jesper

This paper explores how “framing from afar,” in other words, the construction of categories by external agents—policy makers, regulators, local governments, consulting firms and other actors—influences the establishment and subsequent evolution of a new industry. We use the case of the Japanese microbrewery industry to demonstrate how initial external category-setters shape the evolution of the industry by influencing the type of producers that enter and what they produce. We show that external agents used the pre- existing term “jibiru” – meaning regional or local beer – to define the new industry in terms of regional economic growth. This broad category framing served to legitimate entry by producers from a diverse range of backgrounds, and invited extreme experimentation around local and regional ingredients; it also made it difficult for the industry to reach a shared consensus on the taste and characteristics of the products. Our findings contribute to the literature on industry emergence by demonstrating how early category framing by external actors – whose interests may diverge from those of consumers and producers – may impact the nature of entrants, their product development choices, as well as the long-run legitimacy of the industry itself.



More About This Work

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, 329
Published Here
September 20, 2013