By William Lazonick

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Extra info for Corporate Governance and Sustainable Prosperity

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1999 10–K, Annual Report filed with US Securities and Exchange Commission. Jensen, M. 1986. ‘Agency Cost of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers,’ American Economic Review, 76, 323–9. Jensen, M. 1989. ‘Eclipse of the Public Corporation,’ Harvard Business Review, 67, 5, 61–74. , and W. Meckling. 1976. ‘Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs, and Ownership Structure,’ Journal of Financial Economics, 3, 305–60. Lazonick, W. 1992. ‘Controlling the Market for Corporate Control,’ Industrial and Corporate Change, 1, 445–88.

What made US industrial corporations unique among their counterparts in the advanced economies was their dedication to a strategy of taking skills, and hence the possibilities for craft learning – much less corporate 40 Corporate Governance and Sustainable Prosperity learning – off the shop floor (Lazonick, 1990; Lazonick and O’Sullivan 1998). This process of transforming skilled craft work into ‘semi-skilled’ operative work was a prolonged one, constrained as it was by the development of new technology through managerial learning.

This evidence, much of it deriving from the experiences of management consultants and case studies by business academics, provides substance to the skill-base hypothesis. In this paper, I shall focus on differences in hierarchical integration and organizational learning in Japanese and American enterprises. I shall argue that understanding hierarchical integration of technical specialists and production operatives forms an indispensable foundation for understanding the functional integration of technical specialists themselves – a subject that now dominates much of the management literature on technological competition.

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