2021 Volume 38 Pages 25-42
This study takes on the problem of how small and medium-sized start-up companies grow in matured or shrinking markets. It examines the case of BørneLund, a Japanese company that has achieved notable development by importing and selling European toys purported to be useful for children’s growth and education. The investigation is conducted from a perspective of “historical confluence,” which draws attention to a chance encounter between outcomes of activities carried out by multiple organizational entities. As a result of the investigation, the study reveals that the company’s exceptional development was made possible under the circumstances in which the company’s efforts to establish an inimitable business strategy encountered unintended consequences of Japanese educational policies: That is, Japanese middle-class families accelerated their investment in early childhood education, enhancing their interest in educational toys. The study indicates that even in a shrinking market there is a possibility that a small-sized start-up company can grow on the conditions that (1) the company makes proactive efforts to establish its original business model and that (2) the company’s efforts become confluent with unintended consequences of government policies that are not directly aimed at the company’s business.