Research Summary

The Organization of Enterprise in Japan

by Tom Nicholas


Recent research indicates that the joint stock corporation was not a superior form of business organization in many countries during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Japan, by contrast, it appears to have played a more prominent role. When the Civil Code was adopted in 1896 around 5,000 registered enterprises existed but by 1939 there were over 88,000. Approximately half were joint stock firms and these outperformed limited and unlimited partnerships on a return on equity basis, while also accounting for most of the aggregate profits. When the private limited liability company was introduced in 1938 it became immediately popular, but it did not displace the joint stock form.