Katsuhito Iwai - Professor, Faculty of Economics, The University of Tokyo, Japan
The Council is pleased to present the Ninth Annual John W. Hall Lecture on Japanese Studies. In spite of ever-expanding financial markets and ever-advancing communication networks, there still remains a wide difference in corporate structures and corporate governance among advanced capitalistic economies, especially between America and Japan. American corporations tend to view the returns to shareholders as their sole objective, while Japanese corporations place more emphasis on the survival and growth of their organization as a going concern. The first purpose of this talk is to show how the legal personality of “corporation” is capable of generating these seemingly contradictory corporate models within the same institutional framework of capitalism. The second purpose of this talk is to suggest that, despite the growing pervasiveness of the American corporate model, the Japanese model may offer a viable alternative in an age of post-industrialization where the major source of corporate profits is shifting from physical assets (which the shareholders’ money can buy) to organization-specific human assets (which it cannot).