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Published by: Indiana University
Published in: "Business Horizons", 2002

Abstract

Given the growth in Asian markets, it is important for Western managers to understand what drives the success of Japanese and Korean business groups--keiretsus and chaebols. The purpose here is twofold: 1) to analyze, compare, and contrast the ownership, structure, government influence, financing, and culture of each of these two types of business groups; and 2) to analyze how each has dealt with the recent financial crisis in Asia. From this analysis emerge important lessons for strategic international management. The chaebols and keiretsus both emphasize the idea of harmony, but they have different interpretations of this concept and enact it differently. Both groups have altered their structures in response to the new global financial environment. The chaebols have taken the opportunity to solidify and expand their core business units and become more vertically integrated, whereas the keiretsus have succeeded only in the limited disposal of some nonperforming units.

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Abstract

Given the growth in Asian markets, it is important for Western managers to understand what drives the success of Japanese and Korean business groups--keiretsus and chaebols. The purpose here is twofold: 1) to analyze, compare, and contrast the ownership, structure, government influence, financing, and culture of each of these two types of business groups; and 2) to analyze how each has dealt with the recent financial crisis in Asia. From this analysis emerge important lessons for strategic international management. The chaebols and keiretsus both emphasize the idea of harmony, but they have different interpretations of this concept and enact it differently. Both groups have altered their structures in response to the new global financial environment. The chaebols have taken the opportunity to solidify and expand their core business units and become more vertically integrated, whereas the keiretsus have succeeded only in the limited disposal of some nonperforming units.

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