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AMITAI ETZIONI

That such approaches may work in other lands does not mean that they are suitable for the American society. Many elements that go into these efforts in other societies are not available in America, nor are they producible or desirable if producible. Take the growing tendency of U.S. executives to play it safe, while the Japaneseare more prone to take risks and hence come up with more innovations. Our business schools, from Harvard to Stanford, aretold to rework their teaching fast and train less risk-averse executives, ''as the Japanesedo." But being risk-shy and profit-oriented runs deep in our business system. It reflects, in part, our much greater reliance on the stock market to raise capital, while Japanusesmore bonds. Stocks are more quickly dumped than bonds if the

corporation's earnings drop. Similarly, while Japan's government is knee-deep in allocating capital to in-

dustry, Americans consider such government intervention an anathema.Japan's government encouragesbanks to take risks by allowing investment in corpora- tions that have piled up debts eight or nine times their equity; U.S. banks are delicately nudged by the Comptroller of the Currency not to exceed significantly a one-to-one debt/equity ratio, to protect investors. Before American executives become significantly more venturesome, all these factors would need to be re-

versed. Even if this were done, attempts to "redo" American executives would face a

second set of factors, rooted in the American mentality, upbringing, and organizational culture. The Japanesepattern is for an executive to stay with one corporation for life; the loyalty expected is high, as is the corporation's commit- ment. Are American executives ready to submit to a highly paternalistic corpo- rate bondage? Is greater willingness to take risks worth that much less mobility

and flexibility? All this is not to say that U.S. executives could not become somewhatmore

venturesome. But they would have to beencouraged in ways that are compatible with our own culture, mentality, and capital structure, not Japan's. More gener- ally, most of what goes under the name of industrial policy in other countries is alien, un-American; not in the McCarthyite sense,but in a technical sociological

sense: not suitable for the American context. Aside from being alien, industrial policy prompts other objections from crit-

ics:

do not have the analytic capacity to detennine correctly who will bea winner, who a loser. Our record suggeststhat we would misidentify in- dustries and sink vast amounts of public resources in tomorrow's Edsels

2.

(McCracken, 1981) Our polity, in which government tends to beweak compared to business,

labor, and local communities, especially when these work togethcr for their Chrysler, would tend to channel resources not to those who merit them by some rational analysis, but rather to those who have political

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