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Can Japan Compete? Hardcover – October, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


" Porter has done for international capitalism what Marx did for the class struggle....a real achievement." -- The Economist

"American executives are grasping for a logic to global competition... Mr. Porter has given them one." -- New York Times

"Porter's books on competitive strategy are the seminal works in the field." -- Philip Kotler, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University

"Rich in lessons about why and how industries, regions, and nations succeed or fail." -- Business Week

"Three overarching game plans that work... explain how thousands of real-world competitors come out on top." -- Fortune

About the Author

Michael E. Porter is the C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He is the author of a number of books on competitive strategy and international competitiveness, including the Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, now nearing its sixtieth printing.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Printing Writing in Book edition (October 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465059899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465059898
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,155,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Fredrickson on February 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has worked in Japan for nearly 2 years, I found this book very accurate as far as its depiction of the Japanese work culture and corporate model. Also, this book provides a good background of Japan's economic growth after World War II and what it will take for Japan to continue to thrive as a developed economy in the 21st century. This book is well organized and balanced, providing insight about both Japanese government policy and best practices of private industry.

However, I didn't agree with two of the book's assertions: (1) that Japan is weak in basic sciences, specifically chemistry, and (2) that government policies did not play a role in helping Japanese auto manufacturers become globally competitive. As far as Japan's perceived weakness in chemistry, the authors point to the lack of Japanese Nobel Prize winners in the field. However, in order to make this conclusion (about chemistry) the authors overlooked companies such as Toray, the global leader in advanced composite materials, whose motto is "innovation by chemistry." They also overlooked the fact that Japan is a globally competitive in solar power systems and fuel cell technologies, both of which are hugely dependent on competence in chemistry. As far as the success of Japanese auto manufacturers, it is no secret that gas is and has been substantially taxed and that government mandated emission standards have been more stringent than many other countries. It is difficult to believe that these policies had no influence on the shaping of these companies, who now lead in vehicle efficiency.

However, in spite of these disagreements, this book is worth reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I work for a Japanese company that is mentioned in this book and the book is a dead on diagnosis of how Japanese companies are managed. For anyone familiar with the current Japanese economy (which is in a huge depression) there are some major problems with how the Japanese economy operates. There is nothing inherently genius about the solution that Porter offers, which is simply a call for a true free market system in Japan; free of tariffs, trade barriers, cartels, and collusion. However, if you work for a Japanese company I strongly suggest buying this book to understand why your company is managed the way it is.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Suckwoo Lee on August 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Michael Porter become the celebrity in the field of business strategy with his two books, ¡®Competitive Advantage¡¯, ¡®Competitive Strategy¡¯. Takeuchi and Sakakibara secured their name in organizational learning school with their book, ¡®The Knowledge-Creating Company.¡¯ With this book, ¡®the word, ¡®knowledge creation¡¯ has been widely circulated within business schools.
This book poses the question, ¡®Why does Japan stumble?¡¯ it¡¯s the single most popular subject in Japanese studies. Numerous books come to mind on that issue. The approach this book takes is, nonetheless, unique. While others have tackled it in the view of macroeconomics or political economy, authors of this book take the view of microeconomics, or more precisely business strategy. They argue that more-than-decade-long deflation and liquidity trap are not the fundamental problem, but just symptoms. The underlying problem must be hunted for elsewhere: the eroded competitive advantage of Japanese companies. There has been warning signs since 1980s well before bubble bursting:
1. Since 1980s, no new internationally competitive industry has emerged.
2. The profitability, or capital productivity has long been low. Export share has been achieved and maintained partly by sacrificing returns to capital.
3. Japan¡¯s share of world exports peaked in 1986 (10%). But it has fallen since then to below 8%.
Bubble and subsequent financial meltdown certainly is serious trouble. But above reveals much deeper crisis: the loss of competitiveness.
Michael Porter maintains that firms initially gain competitive advantage by altering the basis of competition.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Kroese on December 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Michael Porter is Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and a leading authority on competition and strategic management; Hirotaka Takeuchi is Professor and Dean of the new Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi University in Japan; and Mariko Sakakibara is Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"This book aims first and foremost to offer a theory that can explain and interpret Japan's postware economic trajectory." This 'theory' follows a mostly academical and economical research method. In Chapter 1 the authors first discuss Japan's economical history, whereby the authors use extensive graphs, figures and tables to prove their point: "Japan's actual competitive performance, then, has been mixed for decades." Expanding on their discussion on the economical history, the authors challenge the Japanese government model. "At the core of the Japanese government model is a particular conception of the process of economic development and the bases of competitiveness. It embodies an implicit aversion to certain forms of competition and an effort to channel competition in various ways." This model goes back to the early post-World War II period, when "the nation was in shambles". There is an 12 developmental policies list which form the building blocks of the Japanese governmental model. The authors discuss the impact of these policies on Japan's successes and failures.
In Chapter 3, the authors discuss Japan's unique management model. "The model stresses attributes such as teamwork, a long time horizon, and dedication to continuous quality improvement, all of which remain important Japanese strengths.
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