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Western marketers typically find the Japanese distribution system perplexing and difficult to penetrate. In fact, US trade negotiators have accused the Japanese government…
Western marketers typically find the Japanese distribution system perplexing and difficult to penetrate. In fact, US trade negotiators have accused the Japanese government of deliberately limiting the access to distribution by foreign manufacturers. The situation may have reached a boiling point when the Clinton Administration retaliated by unilaterally imposing a 100 per cent tariff on Japanese luxury cars. However, a socio‐cultural rather than a purely economic perspective is needed to understand the system if US marketers are to make successful inroads in Japan’s markets. Develops a globally generalizable framework rooted in social exchange theory that explains the structure by which distribution activities can be compared across national boundaries. Uses the framework to compare how the Japanese and US distribution systems work. Discusses implications that challenge current policies in both the public and private sectors.