The ‘Flying-Geese’ Theory of Tandem Growth and Regional Agglomeration
New Horizons in International Business series
Chapter 2: Akamatsu’s Flying-Geese Theory – in the Rough
ORIGINAL CONCEPTUALIZATION Three Patterns of FG Formation The phrase, ‘a wild-geese-flying pattern (ganko keitai) of industrial development’, was originally coined by Kaname Akamatsu (1897–1974) of Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, in the mid-1930s. We usually associate this phrase with the image of a regionally clustered group of economies advancing together in leader–follower relations, a pattern of economic development best exemplified by high-performing Asian economies. It is in this particular pattern that the flying-geese theory has become popularized. Though not widely known, this particular FG pattern is, however, just one of two ‘derived’ patterns and is not what Akamatsu called ‘kihonkei [the fundamental or basic pattern]’. What he identified as the ‘kihonkei ganko keitai [the fundamental geese-flying pattern]’ is related specifically to, and extracted from, the development process of Japan’s manufacturing industries. In fact, Akamatsu initially used the phrase ‘flying-geese’ as a metaphor to describe a dynamic evolutionary sequence of development by a new modern industry, an industry theretofore nonexistent in Japan, but that only came to be established after national efforts at modernization were launched in 1868. (Up until then, the Tokugawa feudal regime had ruled Japan for two and a half centuries, withholding itself from contact with the outside world under a so-called ‘sakoku [seclusion]’ policy.) Thus, Akamatsu’s unit of analysis was originally a given modern industry in an economically backward country such as Japan then was – a country that was bent on industrializing by opening up to trade and interacting with, and learning from, the...
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