Do School Cliques Dominate Japanese Bureaucracies? Evidence from Supreme Court Appointments
25 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2011
Date Written: February 1, 2011
Scholars (e.g., Chalmers Johnson) routinely argue that university cliques dominate Japanese firms and bureaucracies. The graduates of the most selective schools, they explain, control and manipulate their employer. They cause it to hire from their alma mater. They skew internal career dynamics to favor themselves.
For most firms and bureaucracies, we lack the data on employee-level output necessary to test whether cliques do skew career tournaments. Because judges publish opinions, within the courts we may have what we need. In this article, I use data on published opinions to test whether Japanese judges from the most selective schools are more likely -- holding output constant -- to reach the Supreme Court. They are not. I find only weak evidence of possible favoritism toward Kyoto University graduates, and no evidence of favoritism toward Tokyo University graduates. Japanese judges do not find themselves named to the Court because of their school backgrounds. They find themselves named there because they are unusually productive.
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