Choose and Focus
Japanese Business Strategies for the 21st Century
Between 2002 and 2008, Japan's economy saw constant expansion, a record among the world's advanced economies and Japan's longest period of economic growth since World War II. This remarkable achievement came about because of a transformation of Japanese business practices. This transformation was guided by strategies that enabled Japan's leading corporations, previously diversified to an exceptionally high degree, to become leaner, more nimble, and more competitive at home and in the global economy.
In Choose and Focus, the first in-depth account of this strategic inflection point in Japanese business, Ulrike Schaede argues that the emerging practices and attitudes have created a New Japan. Drawing on profiles of several corporations, including Panasonic, Takeda and Astellas, Softbank, kakaku.com, and SBI E*Trade, Schaede explains how the fundamental principles of Japan's economy have been overturned. "Choose and focus" strategies, whereby corporations concentrate on core areas and spin off unrelated businesses, have completely altered the strategic logic of Japan's previous industrial architecture. These surprisingly aggressive moves, Schaede finds, have created new market opportunities for start-up enterprises and foreign investors, as well as a wave of mergers, acquisitions, and hostile takeovers that have shaken Japanese companies out of complacency.
Unlike the advances made by Japanese firms in the 1970s and 1980s, the current transformation is taking root in component and materials industries rather than in consumer products. Because of the relative obscurity of the changes and the overshadowing story of China's ascent, the Japanese corporate revolution has gone largely unnoticed among Western observers. Choose and Focus is required reading for anyone doing business in Japan or trying to understand how contemporary Japanese business works and how Japanese corporations have reinvented themselves to face the challenges—and realize the opportunities—of the 21st century.