Institutional Plasticity in Public-Private Interactions: Why Japan’s Port Reform Failed

Faith Hatani

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This study applies the concept of institutional plasticity to analyze institutional change, and investigates why actors are unable to change institutions even when change is apparently necessary. Employing historical institutionalism, the analysis focuses on public-private interactions in the recent port reform in Japan. The study’s findings reveal four limits to institutional plasticity due to the respective roles of key actors – the central government, the local port authority, and business entities – in the process of policy reform. The study suggests that while institutional plasticity may enable variation within an existing developmental trajectory or even creation of an entirely new path, insufficient institutional plasticity constrains the creation of new institutions and inhibits institutional change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923–936
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of World Business
Issue number6
Early online date29 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Institutions
  • Public management reform


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