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June 22, 2005

Zaibatsu Affiliation and Industry Development in Meiji Japan

Third-year Berkeley graduate students who pass their oral exams and advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. by the end of their third year in residence--i.e., by June 30--get tuition waivers and stipends for the next two years funded by the Graduate School. Those who don't, don't. Hence there are a lot of oral exams going on right now.

Today's was John Tang (2005), "Zaibatsu Affiliation and Industry Development in Meiji Japan" (Berkeley: Diss. Prospectus). He has a great data set: corporate "genealogies" well back into the Meiji Era. He has great questions: all of the Gerschenkronian late-industrialization finance-capitalism vs. the Anglo-Saxon model questions about economic and industrial development in comparative historical perspective. But there is a big problem: because of the hard deadline, the exam is taking place too early for it to be a success as an intellectual enterprise. It's too early for the data to speak in even a preliminary way, let alone for solid discussions about what questions the data might be capable of answering and how to firm up the logic and evidence behind the stories that the data turn out to tell.

(The exam was, however, a great success as a bureaucratic hurdle-jumping and fellowship-gaining exercise.)

Posted by DeLong at June 22, 2005 04:05 PM