In this paper we compare the regional network relationships of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the mechanical engineering and related metal manufacturing industries in Japan and Germany. We show that the structure of network relationships is still largely determined by traditional forms of the organization of production, despite convergent developments. The network relationships of SMEs in Japan are thus very largely determined by a hierarchically organized system of production. By contrast, the German SMEs almost always have far more scope for strategic action than their Japanese counterparts because they are less dependent on large companies and have their own distinctive images in the final markets. In both countries, cooperative network relationships are on the increase. However, reregionalization as postulated in the flexible specialization hypothesis does not appear to be a dominant trend in either Japan or Germany.
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