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Postal Reform in Japan: A Comparative New Zealand–Japan Study of Economic Issues in Privatising a Postal System

The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the economic issues in the postal reform experiences of New Zealand and Japan. New Zealand’s reforms were conducted in the 1980s. Its experience raises questions about what factors were important for overcoming resistance to reform. Japan’s case is a current issue, raising questions of how likely privatisation may be, what dilutions may occur, and what might the post-reform organisation look like. This study charts New Zealand’s reform evolution by supplementing the literature with interviews conducted with experts closely tied to the events. Japan’s reform is similarly traced to the present day where a simulation model I have developed proposes final negotiation outcomes. I argue that New Zealand Post’s pre-reform institutional environment was incongruent with efficiency and productivity. Reforms created an entirely new institutional environment based on neoliberal ideologies, separating governance from ownership and disentangling commercial and social objectives. This study shows that resistance was overcome by a culmination of implementation speed, scale of reform, carefully drafted legislation, and managerial acuity. Japan’s pre-reform environment displays a number of parallels to New Zealand’s. However in this case, I argue that prolonged implementation and a greater presence of interest groups hamper reform progress and simulation suggests only a partial reform where legislation maintains entry barriers, favouring Japan Post over private competition. Key reasons in explaining the differences in outcomes between the two countries are argued to be differences in political ideologies and the strength of reform opposition. The separation of governance and ownership for instance, appears to be more distinct in New Zealand than Japan, and whilst the New Zealand model focuses upon shareholder wealth maximisation, the Japanese case appears to place greater emphasis upon stakeholder interests.
Type of thesis
Duggan, A. J. (2017). Postal Reform in Japan: A Comparative New Zealand–Japan Study of Economic Issues in Privatising a Postal System (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11140
University of Waikato
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