Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Globalizing Government-Business Relations: Multinational Firms and the Japanese Pharmaceutical Market

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Jefferson, Mezzanine Level

How do multinational firms use political strategies to pursue their interests in an increasingly globalized world? Why do these strategies vary across different sectors in a national economy? As a country that was relatively closed to foreign investment until the 1990s, Japan provides a fruitful arena in which to analyze how the process of increasing economic openness allows multinational firms to expand their repertoire of strategies. Drawing on cross-sectoral comparative data from interviews, newspapers, and market research, I argue that the pattern of internationalization of the Japanese pharmaceutical sector resulted in a dynamic in which foreign pharmaceutical firms were able to successfully form partnerships with like-minded Japanese firms. The result was a cross national coalition pitting both foreign firms and globally competitive Japanese firms against smaller, less competitive Japanese firms. This coalitional configuration led to a gradual globalization of the Japanese pharmaceutical sector, with global Japanese and foreign firms pushing for greater harmonization of Japanese regulations and laws with those of the international arena. I examine these dynamics through case studies of political debates around two issues: drug approval times and drug pricing policy. These findings suggest that firms’ preferences and their corresponding market and political strategies are shaped by the path-dependent processes of trade liberalization that occur in a sector. This research contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of government-business interaction, globalization, and market liberalization in advanced industrial countries.

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