Keiretsu(redirected from interfirm network)
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A network of Japanese companies organized around a major bank. The term is also used outside of Japan to describe how a large corporation with many subsidiaries and associated firms can manipulate revenues. For example, firm A and B are controlled by firm C. Firm A is forced to buy its input from firm B at a high price. As a result, A is unprofitable and B is very profitable.
In Japan, a number of independent but related companies centered on and financed by a single bank and/or a joint stock company. That is, the institution (and no other) provides financing for companies in the keiretsu. There are two main types of keiretsu. A horizontal keiretsu is essentially a diversified conglomerate; that is, it may have companies in several, completely unrelated industries so as to reduce the risk of loss if one industry or other has a bad year. A vertical keiretsu, on the other hand, is more centrally controlled such that companies in the same keiretsu provide all steps on the supply chain. For example, a mining company may sell a metal to a refinery in the same keiretsu, who then sells it to an auto company, who then sells cars to consumers. In Japan, these consumers are often employees of the very same keiretsu. Critics of this system contend that they are inefficient; proponents, however, argue that they are sustainable and have helped Japan recover from the post-war period. See also: Japanese miracle, Zaibatsu, Chaebol.