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Annals of Business Administrative Science
Vol. 15 (2016) No. 2 p. 75-87



Business management research in Japan categorizes resources into four categories: people, goods, money, and information. Among these, there has been a strong focus on information-based resources, which are company-specific. The notion that these resources are the basis of competitive advantage and inimitability has been considered the reason that Japanese companies exhibited a high level of international competitiveness in the 1980s. However, Japan’s international competitiveness has been declining since the 1990s. In fact, (a) information-based resources include not only information but also the capability to utilize that information, (b) resources with low inimitability are mixed in with information-based resources, and (c) information-based resources exhibit stickiness not to companies but to people and goods. Therefore, information-based resources do not automatically become sources of competitiveness. These facts were not comprehended until the 1980s, because Japanese companies were unconsciously able to accumulate information-based resources with high inimitability through Japanese-style management systems, like the lifetime commitment system. However, these preconditions for Japanese competitiveness were lost in the 1990s, resulting in an outflow of information-based resources embodied in workers and the decline of Japanese companies’ international competitiveness.

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