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Stam, J.

Stam, J.

Joop Stam, born in Ursem, the Netherlands, in 1943. Ph.D. from the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Professor of Contemporary Japanese Economics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and Twente University of Technology.

Fellow (1 September 1995 – 31 January 1996)

During my five-month research period at NIAS I concentrated my activities mainly on the analysis of Japan’s economic interaction with the Pacific Asian region. Trade and investment flows, internationalisation policies of companies and governments but also the issue of technology transfer have been the focus of my attention. In particular I have looked into the nature and effect of Japan’s direct foreign investment in the ASEAN countries. The massive expansion of Japanese production facilities in the region, the strong interlinkage with the Japanese economy and the extensive use of networks and preferential business ties have created a strong powerbase for Japan’s international competition. After the decennia of long association with Western economic powers, in particular the U.S.A., Japan has turned (again) its attention, both economically and politically, to the Pacific Asian region.

It has become clear that the expansion strategy of Japanese enterprises in the region differs significantly from their American and European competitors. Whereas the latter ones deem their operations in Pacific Asia best controlled and guided by local expertise, Japanese companies tend to prefer to remain completely in control themselves. Partly this can be ascribed to their business strategy emphasising efficiency and effectiveness in production (i.e. the application of Japanese production systems), partly to their philosophy of training and education (i.e. learning by doing in an hierarchical structure). Therefore, the omnipresence of Japanese supervising personnel and the piecemeal delegation of authority to local staff is a constant source of irritation and conflict and has a strong impact on the local economy and society.

This ‘wisdom’ has been developed during my stay from September till February but was corroborated during the workshop `Asian Business Systems and Enterprise Strategies’, held at NIAS on 13-14 May 1996. During the discussions at the workshop the strong interlinkage between politico-strategic issues of the region, the prominent role of networks (business systems) and the particular behaviour of enterprises became evident. These observations tallied in with the overall outcome of our core group research meetings held frequently at NIAS and the workshop on international relations held at Clingendael.

My stay at NIAS has been instrumental, not only to the deepening and widening of my understanding of and perspectives on developments in Pacific Asia, it has also created the chance and opportunity to write an article on “Japan’s return to Asia”, rewrite an article on “New modes of corporate co-operation among Japanese companies” and prepare my inaugural address for Twente University on `Management of technology in Japan’, presented on November 23 1995. The workshops and their preparation intensified the communication with many colleagues from existing networks but also provided the opportunity to expand beyond well-known horizons. In this respect NIAS has functioned as a very successful catalyst in international scientific exchange.