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Choose and Focus: Japanese Business Strategies for the 21st Century Hardcover – July 17, 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

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"Are the traditional Japanese business models and management approaches that proved so successful in the 1970s and 1980s changing? Schaede says yes, as evidenced by Japan's economic upswing between 2002 and (mid) 2008. Using her knowledge of Japanese language and culture to better understand contemporary Japanese business, she successfully argues that a new business strategy is being used by large and small firms, and particularly by firms rooted in component and materials industries. . . . Schaede analyzes and explains new models of mergers/acquisitions/takeovers, reorganizations, and restructuring, which are often driven by competition both within and outside Japan, and the use of venture capital and start-ups. This easy-to-read book is valuable for anyone doing business in and with Japan or wanting to learn about business practices there. Highly recommended."―J. W. Leonard, Choice, March 2009

 "Choose and Focus provides a sound review of Japanese postwar development and is a good background for . . . Japan's development over the last decade. . . . This is a well-written and very interesting book, and we would definitely agree with Schaede that parts of the New Japan are emerging, and the 'choose and focus' strategy is one of the most critical for Japanese corporations in the twenty-first century"―Seiichiro Yoekura, Japanese Journal of Political Science, December 2010



"Japan is back. While China or India have been grabbing headlines, Japan Inc. has quietly revolutionized its way of doing business. As the world struggles to pull out of the post-subprime recession, Japan is poised to come out a winner. A fierce and focused competitor has emerged. This book offers the best insight into what drives Japan's newfound strength. Ignore it and you may find yourself losing out to the new Japan powerhouse."―Jesper Koll, President of Tantallon Research Japan

"Choose and Focus is a terrific book. Ulrike Schaede argues that the Japanese economy has changed profoundly since 1998: companies have broken free of the old model and become profit-driven. She warns that people in other countries ignore Japan's new nimbleness, efficiency, and innovation at their peril. The book brilliantly combines an economy-wide survey of how government regulation has become more market-oriented with illustrations of the nitty-gritty of changing business practices in key sectors. Schaede is a real storyteller, and her descriptions of the transformation of industries ranging from chemicals to finance are lively and gripping."―Mark Tilton, Purdue University

"In Choose and Focus, Ulrike Schaede's Japanese-language skills, rich network of contacts in Japan, and long experience are all put to good use. She brings together a rich mix of data to develop a convincing and original argument that Japan (at last) is making the changes that will allow it to be a formidable force in the new global economy."―Leonard H. Lynn, Case Western Reserve University

From the Back Cover

"Japan is back. While China or India have been grabbing headlines, Japan Inc. has quietly revolutionized its way of doing business. As the world struggles to pull out of the post-subprime recession, Japan is poised to come out a winner. A fierce and focused competitor has emerged. This book offers the best insight into what drives Japan's newfound strength. Ignore it and you may find yourself losing out to the new Japan powerhouse."--Jesper Koll, President of Tantallon Research Japan

"Choose and Focus is a terrific book. Ulrike Schaede argues that the Japanese economy has changed profoundly since 1998: companies have broken free of the old model and become profit-driven. She warns that people in other countries ignore Japan's new nimbleness, efficiency, and innovation at their peril. The book brilliantly combines an economy-wide survey of how government regulation has become more market-oriented with illustrations of the nitty-gritty of changing business practices in key sectors. Schaede is a real storyteller, and her descriptions of the transformation of industries ranging from chemicals to finance are lively and gripping."--Mark Tilton, Purdue University

"In Choose and Focus, Ulrike Schaede's Japanese-language skills, rich network of contacts in Japan, and long experience are all put to good use. She brings together a rich mix of data to develop a convincing and original argument that Japan (at last) is making the changes that will allow it to be a formidable force in the new global economy."--Leonard H. Lynn, Case Western Reserve University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (July 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801447062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801447068
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #830,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J. Johansson on April 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Blaming arrogance and inability to change, most business analysts have written off Japan for the last 15 or so years. The bursting financial bubble of Japan in the early 1990s and the ensuing banking crisis, the slowing of consumer demand, the deflationary scare, and the recurring political ineptitude made the "Japanese malaise" a touchstone for many pundits as the U.S. went through a similar crisis. The energy and inventiveness that had propelled Toyota, Sony, Honda, Nintendo and other Japanese mega-brands into household words in the 1980s might still be there, but seemed no longer part of Japan Inc. They were outliers from a weak and emasculated country.

This book lays to rest these preconceptions and biases about today's Japanese business. It shows that despite superficial evidence to the contrary, many Japanese companies have in fact been able to change strategies that help them capitalize on new opportunities. The problem is that we outsiders are not able to see this change as clearly as previous efforts, because the new businesses operate in B2B environments, not easily visible consumer markets. Whereas the Japan Inc. policies of the past encouraged diversification and exports by large companies in consumer goods, the new and less directive environment encourages start-ups, entrepreneurship and concentration on core activities.

This is the "choose and focus" strategy of the book title. Not surprisingly, given the high labor costs in Japan, the focus usually involves high technology sectors and R&D expenditures. Roughly speaking, the Japanese now provide the technology inside iPods and iPhones, HD televisions, cellphone displays and GPS devices. You may not see their brand names on the products, but the Japanese own large shares in technology markets.
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