4th SIEM research meeting

In October 8, 2008 at Iwate University during the Association of Japanese Geographers’ autumn meeting the research group met. We received a presentation about “Agglomeration Mechanism of the Content Industry” from Mr. Kenta Yamamoto (Tohoku University). Thanks’ to the participation of another specialist on animation industry, Mr. Seji Hanzawa (Osaka City University), we had a controversial and interesting discussion. We are also grateful to the comments of Prof. Masateru Hino (Tohoku University), who is a leading economic and urban geographer and an important promoter of our research group on Spaces of International Economy and Management (SIEM).

Agglomeration Mechanism of Content Industry – The Case of Animation Industry in Japan, Korea and China –
YAMAMOTO Kenta(Tohoku University)

The research was done to reveal agglomeration mechanism of animation industry in Japan, Korea and China. The purpose was to investigate factors leading of agglomeration of Content Industries in the Metropolis. Animation (Cartoon) industry is one of the major Content Industries in Japan, Others being movie, music and publishing industries. International division of labor is developed in the industry. Firms of the industry are located in Tokyo, Japan; Seoul in South Korea. While in China, firms are concentrated especially in Shanghai region. A questionnaire survey was done for the firms and workers and interview survey carried out with the firms. The study reveals mechanisms of agglomeration.
In the area where content industry is highly developed, firms of the industry prefer to locate in metropolis for the advantage of accessibility to media industries, and distributors of products. The existing relationships of division of labor remain after international division of labor started. This is because establishment of the firms is spin-off and urgency is needed in daily transactions in many of production processes. Division of labor in the developed area is based on unstable quantity of transaction. And, compatibility of labor’s skill is lower in higher production process because of the nature of products. Because of these factors, on one hand, firms take a strategy to employ workers of production department as freelancer in order to avoid instability of management. On the other hand, workers build interdependent relationships with each other to avoid instability of job opportunity. These relationships also play key roles in skill learning and getting employment. The firms prefer to locate in an area where other firms in the industry are concentrated because of the restrictions explained above, for example, trading frequency, rental, and needs of flexible and specialized labor market.
Next is where receives orders in international division of labor, and undertakes not only production process but also creative process in domestic market. Agglomeration is developed in a certain area where there is good accessibility to international air port and good name value. This is because immediate response and face-to-face sessions are necessary in producing contents. In addition, name value of a location is sometimes considered as trustworthy.
To be precise, agglomeration types in an area differ between (1) an area which undertakes production process only and (2) an area which undertakes both production and creative processes in international division of labor. Only in the later case, some concentrations are developed by reflects of major countries which firms trade with. In the case of (1), agglomeration area isn’t separated by following reasons. Skills in production process are compatible between ordering countries which have different nature of products. Firms can share labor pool formed in agglomeration area and can receive orders from other countries. In the second case, different concentration districts are developed because there is difference in qualitative needs among ordering countries, for example in terms of lay-out and story-board. Products’ feature is so different in one ordering country that order receiving firms have to compose labor force flexibly. As a result, firms employ workers as freelancers in both creative and production department. From another view point, it is said that labor pool which have flexibility and specialty exist around firms. Different labor pools have different specialization. Following are the mechanisms. Some workers try to climb career ladder from production department to creative department. This career path requires skill learning, which workers can get by a variety of opportunities depending on skills they want. Some of them are evaluated on their skills and gain several works through work-mates in the district. So labor pools of different districts are isolated. This skillful labor pools enhance concentration of firms.
Finally is the area which receives producing process in international division of labor and does not undertake domestic orders. Firms prefer to locate within the area that has accessibility to international air port and source of cheap labors. This is because firms (1) demand time proximity to overseas clients, and (2) they must meet the requirement of clients for massive and unstable cheap works. Focusing on labor pool, workers are paid low salary as a result. Thus, workers are faced with unstable employment. In addition, climbing career up is difficult for them because firms have less creative departments in infancy of domestic market. From this working environment, workers try to increase their income by working long hours and gaining productivity skill. Consequently cheap labor force is continually provided.

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