Hiromitsu Goto, Yuji Fujita, Wataru Souma, 25 August 2020

The current economic crisis calls for a pandemic-resistant supply chain network in the post-COVID-19 era. This column investigates the Japanese supply chain network at the firm level and discusses its dynamics, resilience, and robustness. It shows that the network can be characterised by a ‘walnut’ structure, with an intricately connected centre surrounded by upstream and downstream components. Despite the maturity of the Japanese economy, the network is actively changing, with fast-growing firms becoming more connected and slow-growing firms moving to the periphery. Fully understanding this structure will be crucial in making supply chain networks resilient to pandemics in the future.

William Connell, Emmanuel Dhyne, Hylke Vandenbussche, 30 January 2020

How do firms become exporters? Using transaction-level data from Belgium, this column examines the role of intermediary firms in the internationalisation process. It finds that a manufacturing firm that exports indirectly to a particular destination via a wholesaler is more likely to go on to become a direct exporter to that destination at a later point. This effect is driven by the spillover over of knowledge on foreign demand from the wholesaler to the manufacturer. The role of intermediaries is particularly important for destination markets that are further afield, where firms face greater uncertainty. 

Toshihiro Okubo, Yukako Ono, Yukiko Saito, 04 September 2015

The productivity of a firm depends on its interaction with its suppliers and customers. This column uses unique data from Japan to investigate the wholesalers’ role in transaction networks, considering both sides of the transaction. The likelihood that a firm uses wholesalers increases with smaller buyer-side firms and larger seller-side firms. In addition, wholesalers tend to be located closer to their manufacturing buyers and further from their manufacturing sellers than manufacturers are to their direct manufacturing partners.

Yasuyuki Todo, Petr Matous, 26 June 2015

Firm networks affect innovation and growth through diffusion of knowledge and information. This column argues that promoting ties with firms outside of the region should be an important part of cluster policies. Such ties can bring new information to the region and can enhance innovation. Distant firm partners can also help in the short-run recovery after a disaster, as was the case following the 2011 earthquake in Japan.

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