The Future Global Competitiveness of Japan and Germany

By Kahalas, Harvey | Advances in Competitiveness Research, Annual 2000 | Go to article overview

The Future Global Competitiveness of Japan and Germany


Kahalas, Harvey, Advances in Competitiveness Research


This year (1999) marks the 10th annual conference of the American Society for Competitiveness (ASC)--an organization focused on how firms and countries enhance their competitiveness. Competitiveness is no small matter. It plays a monumental role in the quality of life for those who work in organizations and certainly for the citizens of all countries. We founded this organization to provide insight--insight that is based on sound research - into how competitiveness can be created and strengthened.

Within that context of competitiveness, I think it is particularly appropriate today to discuss Japan and Germany. Just a little more than fifty years ago they were our fiercest enemies on the battlefield. In recent decades they have been our toughest competitors in the global marketplace--the second and third most economically powerful nations in the world, respectively. These are two countries that literally rose from the ashes of World War 11 to be dominant economic forces, much praised and much emulated.

It is no secret, however, that the 90s have not been kind to Japan and Germany. They will enter the new millennium with mammoth economic problems: high unemployment, company failures and huge losses. During the summer of 1999, I had the good fortune of spending six weeks in these two great nations, as part of two different delegations--one of U. S. business school academics, and one of North American academics and practitioners.

The Keizan Koho Center and AACSB sponsored the trip to Japan. It was designed to help business faculty and administrators in the United States gain an understanding of the Japanese economic and social situation.

The Germany trip was sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service and the University of Bonn and was focused on providing North American faculty and business executives with an understanding of the role of Germany in the European Union. In this essay, I would like to share with you some of my experiences and impressions from those visits and the role that the ASC can play.

I don't plan to dwell on the economic and financial factors that have led to the economic downturn of Japan and Germany, but rather issues that I believe deserve equal attention: the demographic, sociological and cultural aspects. My sense is that a lot of their financial concerns are derivatives of underlying social and cultural problems. In both nations, these aspects are important considerations with regard to competitiveness. While they have been powerful opponents in the global arena, their dominance has come not from innovation and creativity, but really from the ability to take a good idea and make it better.

On my recent trip to Japan, the deputy foreign minister said to me: "Our people are focused on improvement, not innovation." This orientation runs deep in their history, their culture, and their educational system. Their organizational relationships, which are very complex and are very critical for the traditional functioning of Japanese society, really are a hindrance to their ability to move forward. They take a process or a product and expand on it, creating the best possible process or product. But frankly, they don't come up with new innovative paradigms or products, except for a few unusual firms led by corporate mavericks such as Sony's Morita.

Historically, Japanese firms have taken a product, a compact car for instance, and determined how to make it better, safer, more fuel efficient and cheaper than do their counterparts in other parts of the world. However, today's new economy is predicated on innovation--not just innovation in products but innovation in delivery systems such as the Internet. They usually don't practice innovation in Japan and, when they do, they don't do it well. Their corporate culture is one of those aspects that reinforce traditional ways of doing things.

As many of you know, I have spent a considerable amount of my time focused on the automobile industry. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Future Global Competitiveness of Japan and Germany
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.