The dawn of the new century marks Asia’s turning point. East Asian economies have started to grow fast again but today’s growth is largely different from the one in the years of the economic miracle.
In the 1980s, Japan led the world in terms of efficiency and competitiveness. The Japanese model seemed more capable of handling not only an economic catch-up but also a highly developed economy. In the West, “learn from Japan” became a catchphrase. American and European businessmen and management experts, invited to visit Japanese firms, admired the way the latter worked with suppliers, trained personnel, and controlled the quality of products. US congressmen were calling for imitation of Japan’s cooperative government–business relations and scholars discussed scenarios for the formation of American financial–industrial groups in the fashion of Japanese keiretsu.
Most other Asian countries were willing to follow Japan’s example. It was believed that East Asia, though definitely having opted for the market, not the socialist planned economy, would be capable of building an economic system more workable and relevant for its societies than anything Western capitalism could offer.
An emphasis on stability and long-term growth rather than on maximization of investors’ returns; on cooperation and teamwork rather than on individualism; on trust and personal relationships rather than on blind and “heartless” contracts and rules seemed to pave the way for achieving social harmony, ...