Suppliers' Associations in the Japanese Automobile Industry
This paper analyzes the structure and functions of suppliers' associations (kyoryokukai) in the automobile industry in Japan. The bilateral assembler-supplier relationship has received much attention recently as a source of Japanese industrial competitiveness. However, this paper argues that the hitherto neglected area of inter-supplier coordination in technology diffusion is at least as important as the bilateral assembler-supplier relationship in accounting for the overall performance of the Japanese automotive industry. On the basis of company visits and a largescale survey of first-tier suppliers conducted by the author, the paper analyzes the reasons why suppliers' associations were established, why they continue to exist today, and their effects on economic performance.