DP1147 | Suppliers' Associations in the Japanese Automobile Industry: Collective Action for Technology Diffusion


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This paper analyses the structure and the functions of suppliers' associations (kyoryokukai) in the Japanese automobile industry. Much attention has been paid to bilateral assembler-supplier relationships as a source of Japanese industrial competitiveness. This paper argues, however, that the hitherto neglected area of inter-supplier coordination in technology diffusion is at least as important as the bilateral assembler-supplier relationship in accounting for the overall performance of the Japanese automotive industry. On the basis of company visits and a large-scale survey of first-tier suppliers conducted by the author, the paper analyses the reasons why the suppliers' associations were established, the reasons why they continue to exist today, and their effects on economic performance.