Many Western managers are becoming wary of joint ventures. They have learned through costly experience that such alliances - particularly with Asian partners - can become a low-cost route through which new competitors acquire technology and market access.
For better or worse, alliance formation soared during the 1980s as corporations united for competitive advantage. While many alliances have been highly successful, others have ended bitterly, and some should never have been formed in the first place.
Americans hear so much about Japan as the success story of the international economy, they sometimes forget that the Japanese have economic problems of their own. Japan has its declining industries such as steel and its low-wage competitors such as South Korea and Taiwan.
Historians and social scientists do better looking backward than looking forward. Economists, for example, have predicted seven of the last two recessions. Once something has happened, however, we can usually explain why it was inevitable.