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Restructuring in the Toyota Keiretsu during the Asian Financial Crash: An Ethnographic Perspective into Neo-liberal Reforms and the Varieties of Capitalism

  • Author(s): Mehri, Darius
  • et al.
Abstract

The Asian economic crash of 1997 lead to widespread restructuring of corporate organizations in Japan. This paper uses ethnographic field work and historical documents to examine how this played out inside one company, Toyota, when management implemented a restructuring plan to improve the profitability of its companies during the period of 1996 to 1999. The restructuring policies are discussed within the framework of the varieties of capitalism debate. A hallmark of the current discussion on Japanese organizations is that Japan is converging toward the American model of capitalism. I argue that although Japanese companies have adapted to worsening economic conditions by incorporating neo-liberal market reforms, restructuring during the Asian crash reveals that changes in the Toyota organization were based on hybrid policies that fused both liberal and coordinated market economics within the context of the unique institutions of Japanese welfare corporatism.

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