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Eastern Asian Enterprise Structures-

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Eastern Asian Enterprise Structures and tlie Comparative Analysis of Forms of Business Organization
Richard D. Whitley

Abstract Richard D. Whitley Manchester Business School, Manchester, U.K.

The economic success of different forms of business organization in East Asian countries emphasizes the variety of viable enterprise structures and suggests the need for a comparative analysis of how they develop and operate in different societal contexts. Major differences between East Asian business 'recipes' include the range of activities that are authoritatively coordinated, their pattems of development, the ways in which they are organized and controlled and the organization of inter enterprise relations. These differences suggest eight major dimensions on which dominant enterprise structures in different societies can be compared and how their development can be linked to major social institutions.

Introduction

Organization Studies 1990,11/1:047-074 © 1990 EGOS 0170-8406/90 0011-0003 $1.00

The economic success of Japanese firms over the past 40 years has emphasized the viability of alternatives to United States management structures and practices, as well as highlighting the limited generality of the business strategy-structure relationships identified by Chandler (Alford 1976; Kagono et al. 1985: 99-110; Maurice et al. 1986). Whereas it may have seemed reasonable in the 1960s and 1970s to regard Japanese organizational practices and forms as temporary stepping stones on the path to 'modern', i.e. U.S., practices, their continuation and growing success in U.S. and European markets render such dismissal increasingly untenable. The failure of competitive pressures to generate isomorphic management structures and practices throughout successful firms in world markets (cf. DiMaggio and Powell 1983) is further emphasized by the distinctive nature of firms in…...

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