- The changing interpretations of the flying geese model of economic development (2002)
- The flying geese model, a theory of industrial development in latecomer economies, was developed in the 1930s by the Japanese economist Akamatsu Kaname (1896–1974). While rarely known in western countries, it is highly prominent in Japan and seen as the main economic theory underlying Japan’s economic assistance to developing countries. Akamatsu’s original interpretation of the flying geese model differs fundamentally from theories of western origin, such as the neoclassical model and Raymond Vernon’s product cycle theory. These differences include the roles of factors and linkages in economic development, the effects of demand and supply, as well as the dynamic and dialectical character of Akamatsu’s thinking. Later reformulations of the flying geese model, pioneered by Kojima Kiyoshi, attempt to combine aspects of Akamatsu’s theory with neoclassical thinking. This can be described as the “westernization” of the flying geese model. It is this reformulated interpretation that has become popular in Japan’s political discourse, a process that might be explained by the change in Japan’s perspective from that of a developing to that of an advanced economy. The position taken by Japan in its recent controversy with the World Bank, however, shows that many basic elements of Akamatsu’s thinking are still highly influential within both Japan’s academia and its government and are therefore relevant for understanding current debates on development theory.