Corporate case-studies constitute the greater part of the literature on British distribution and marketing. What is missing is a convincing interpretation, outlining the development stages of distribution and marketing in Britain. Nonetheless, some basic milestones and trends can be discerned. In Britain, the term 'marketing' was first introduced during the 1920s from the United States, replacing the previous use of the word 'sales'. It was concerned with the operational transfer of products from the factory gates to wholesalers and retailers. By the 1930s, 'marketing' at a few leading firms additionally encompassed an integrated system of production, product development, advertising, branding, sales, distribution, and management organisation. The inter-war period was, therefore, a turning point in the history of British marketing practice, but, as in the US, the top 100 companies did not adopt what became called the 'marketing orientation' until the post-war consumer boom. The period of the 'Great Victorian Boom', 1850-1870, is relatively under-researched, but we do know that some leading firms had a high appreciation of marketing. Yet it was the following decades that were critical in the emergence of marketing systems that were more identifiably modern. The new scale of production, marketing, branding and advertising and their importance to business objectives and organisation were noticeably transformed by 1900. Internationally-high levels of personal expenditure and well-developed product markets had encouraged in Britain a number of expanding consumer goods industries. Individual business histories reveal the importance of packaged, household goods in particular, and many of the firms that became leading advertisers at this time gained a long-lasting first mover advantage. There were, too, extensive developments in distribution and retailing : multiples expanded alongside city-centre department stores. Our knowledge and interpretation, however, are still guided by a seminal work, which appeared over fifty years ago, and there are few academic studies of businesses that were national retailers by 1914. British historians, with a few notable exceptions, have overlooked the advances of the 1920s and 1930s. Just as there was a shift towards high value, branded items in food and household goods, the growth in consumer durables expenditure suggests expanding wealth and a higher income elasticity of demand. The early development of British markets and manufacturing capabilities meant that the post-war decades did not demonstrate great marketing innovation, but did see, naturally, an enlargement in the scale of operations, and the further spread of 'best-practice' management techniques. On the other hand, the growing oligopoly of the retailing multiples and especially supermarkets shifted the balance of marketing power towards their competitive advantages in logistics, bulk purchase and price, and away from the manufacturers' emphasis on brand, cachet and image. It is a pity, therefore, that no systematic survey of Britain in the 1950s and 1960s exists to track general trends in market structure, consumer attitudes, and business strategy. Our knowledge of British marketing and distribution remains is largely dominated by a small group of consumer goods manufacturers, and to an even smaller set of retailers, despite some insights into insurance firms and railways. Too few British business histories, whatever their other virtues, pay attention to the topic. In addition, systematic surveys would deepen our understanding of 'modern' marketing, its origins, and causes, and contribute to our appreciation of its many dimensions, wide-ranging impact, and patterns of development.
This paper aims to describe a corporate system in the coal mining industry called Ube-style anonymous association. This trust system has been supported by and developed in accordance with the customs in Ube areas from Meiji to Showa period. Coal mine companies used to have equal equity structure accruing equivalent right to each equity owner. However, since the shift from short-term to long-term management, equity structure had evolved to allow absorption of small capital with equity holdings. This relatively increased the equity holdings of functional capitalists resulted in larger share of profits and greater executive power. Resolutions in the general meeting of stakeholders previously done on human rule, a quorum defined by voting rights, was changed to a material rule which does not require an existence of a quorum. Despite the shift to long-term management, some companies still provide 400% dividend to its stakeholders and do not account for retained earnings. But, with the expansion of and constraints of partnership structure, the ratio of dividend payout decreased. Companies then recognized the importance of complementing financial policies with corporate management. This paper concludes that although Ube-style anonymous association retains its peculiar corporate system, it advances to establish itself as a corporate system with differentiating equity structure and is responsive to organizational and management constraints.
After much contested debates, the 1997 revision of the Anti-monopoly Law finally lifted the ban on the creation of holding companies for the first time in half of a century. The reason why it took as long as 50 years seems to lie in the Japan-specific historical backgrounds. They are the critical influences of prewar zaibatsu over the postwar economy and the unique understanding about the so-called Konzern (corporate agglomeration). Theoretically speaking, holding companies have two major functions. Holding companies in Japan, however, have long been regarded as just means of concentrating economic powers. They have been easily associated with prewar gigantic zaibatsu structures, and that is why they had been prohibited such a long time. But nowadays it is important to recognize they have another significant function, that is, the reorganization of corporate internal structures. This paper intends to survey the prewar debates on holding companies and Konzern as well, pursuing after how the Japan-specific historical backgrounds emerged since the 1930s. This article will also examine how much the second function of holding companies was ignored in the prewar debates.