Chandler and Business History in Japan

Posted: 16 Aug 2008

Date Written: Summer 2008


The work and ideas of Alfred D. Chandler Jr. have enriched the field of Japanese business history and our understanding of that nation's industrial development. Chandler's studies about the rise of the large, professionally managed, multidivisional firm in the United States highlight factors critical not only to the United States' capitalist system but also to Japan's. Indeed, large firms played a dominant role in Japan's economic takeoff in the late 1800s. As these companies grew, they were transformed into professionally managed corporations. Managers, operating in a clear hierarchical chain of command, built up huge companies, such as Nihon Denki (NEC), Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electric, Hitachi, Nippon Steel, Matsushita, and Toyota. In Japanese as in U.S. firms, the invisible hand of management was critical to controlling the flow of work, from the input of raw materials to the production of finished goods.

Keywords: Alfred Chandler, Japan, Nihon, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Nippon Steel, Matsushita, Toyota, zaibatsu

JEL Classification: N85, N80, L62, L63

Suggested Citation

Anchordoguy, Marie, Chandler and Business History in Japan (Summer 2008). Business History Review, Vol. 82, No. 2, Summer 2008, Available at SSRN:

Marie Anchordoguy (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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