A Comparative Study of Governance of Professional Baseball Systems in Japan and Taiwan

Article excerpt

Introduction

Baseball, having gained assistance from the Americans, established its foundation in Japan and the future of the game in Asia, in 1903. Americans "were embraced easily in Asian societies where Japan played a crucial role in perpetuating and promoting baseball" (Reaves, 2002: 8). Most academics have agreed that the relationship of (professional) baseball development between Japan, Taiwan, and the USA is evident, and such a type of development has manifested a specific 'chain of supply' in the global sporting context (cf. Chiba, 2004; Lee & Lin, 2007; Reaves, 2002; Takahashi & Horne, 2004). This claim of such a tendency, related to the development of globalizing baseball, has reflected on a phenomenon in Chiba's accounts that "the phenomenon of globalization is becoming increasingly important for the professional baseball leagues in the Pacific region and North America" (Chiba, 2004: 207). Today, players from the East Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are common and performing with increasing dominance in the professional baseball industry in the United States, especially after 2001. "[Professional] baseball across Asia seems to appear to be the same as the U.S. version and in many ways, the Great American Game has become the Great Japanese Game- at least across Asia" (Reaves, 2002: 2) in general, and East Asia in particular. The game of professional baseball, which deems an obvious link among them, has built bridges from their development, which has been shaped in various forms in terms of management although having the same American origin.

In 1945 Japanese governance was ended and Taiwan has been took over by Taiwan's government ever since. Fifty years of dominance by Japanese culture has more or less permeated and influenced the development of Taiwanese baseball culture and civil society. Indeed, generations later, Japan's influence on the game [baseball] remains significant until now ... and "what is special about Taiwan baseball is that we followed the Japanese model" (Wilson, 1996: 73). Therefore, some curious issues around this sport have been raised. Within this context, this paper aims to understand the development of the Japanese and Taiwanese professional baseball systems by explaining/comparing such organizations and management under their specific structural contexts. The researchers thus approach their study informed by the above considerations to identify: Who are the most powerful groups of actors who have shaped the professional baseball systems? What strategic goals have they pursued, and what resources were available to these actors given the historical context? What are the principles which guide particular organizations? Whose interests have been served by the development of the professional baseball systems?

The term 'governance' has grown in usage in relation to arguments in political science, public policy, international relations, and other areas in recent years. Before, the concept of governance had almost been seen as synonymous with government and related simultaneously to terms of politics, policies, and polity of political systems. As a rising popularity and an increasing expansion of the governance discourse which depicts various applications and meanings are recognized, the booming adoption of governance theory has also been found both at national and international levels in the field of sport (cf. Forster, 2006;Henry, Amara, Liang, & Uchiumi, 2005; Henry & Lee, 2004; Hoye & Cuskelly, 2007; Hums & MacLean, 2004; Michie & Oughton, 2005; Thoma & Chalip, 2003). In this study, Henry and Lee's (2004) threefold typology of sport governance concepts has adapted to seek to investigate and explain the development of Japanese and Taiwanese professional baseball systems. According to Henry and Lee (2004), these three key sport governance approaches are systemic governance, corporate governance, and political governance. …