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Japanese Corporate Governance and the Principle of “Internalism”


*Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, Judge Business School Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1AG. E-mail:


Japanese corporate governance can be analysed in terms of a defining characteristic of “internalism”: the belief that companies should be controlled by internally appointed managers who are integrated into their firms. Examples are offered from recent contacts with corporate management and other sources to illustrate how this determines the response of management to specific developments. Internalism depends on a socio-corporate environment created by specific historical and economic circumstances. Potentially disruptive elements exist which could alter this environment and undermine the foundations on which internalism rests. However, major change seems unlikely in the near future.