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Social capital in Japanese‐Western alliances: understanding cultural effects

Stephanie Slater (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Matthew J. Robson (Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 17 February 2012



The purpose of this paper is to explain the culture‐driven role and effects of social capital in Japanese‐Western alliances. The authors move beyond narrow conceptualizations of relationship bonding (i.e. positive socio‐psychological aspects such as trust and commitment) to explore the broader role of social capital (e.g. in destructive act recovery processes) in such alliances.


The conceptual paper adopts a theory development approach.


The authors advance a process model and propositions that explain the way social capital networks and processes influence relationship‐based contracting and performance outcomes in alliances with the Japanese.

Research limitations/implications

The study assists international marketers in their efforts to overcome cultural barriers to success in Japanese‐Western alliance relationships.

Practical implications

It can be argued that erosion of Japanese business culture potentially clouds the picture for implementing governance through social capital. The study furnishes managers with an understanding of how to take the cultural context of the partnership into account to build appropriate and productive social capital with Japanese partners.


The study is novel in addressing the issue of how to implement relational bonding mechanisms in complex cultural situations. As a result of cultural erosion, different types of Japanese partner, eroded versus traditional, may require different alliance screening and management strategies.



Slater, S. and Robson, M.J. (2012), "Social capital in Japanese‐Western alliances: understanding cultural effects", International Marketing Review, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 6-23.



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