|Barbara Heinzen's early scenario work on China led to a similar assignment concerning the Japanese chemical industry, which came just as the Japanese bubble economy was expanding. At that time, no Western company could compete effectively with the Japanese. As her Western clients explained, Japanese business people consistently took a long-term point of view. But how did they pay for it? Some said the Japanese had 'cheaper money'.
The answer was found through a mixture of library research and talks with Japanese colleagues. ‘Cheaper money’ was not the explanation. Instead, the underlying design of Japan’s business and financial system had created conditions that supported the long term view. However, this uniquely Japanese business system was internal to the country, so what might happen as Japan’s financial sector sought to become an international player? Was a crash possible? A few years after this work was completed, the Japanese bubble burst.
In subsequent years, Barbara Heinzen did similar work on other emerging business systems, first in Russia, in the early 1990s, then in China in 1996. These three studies involved societies embarking on major systemic change. Each study alerted Barbara Heinzen’s Western clients to competitive dangers they had not previously appreciated.