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Seminar paper from the year 2007 in the subject Business economics - Miscellaneous, grade: bestanden, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, 11 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: "Traditionelle Unternehmen haben ausgedient, die Zeit der Netzwerke bricht an." - Ken Everett, Australian manager Thinking about social networks one might first think about times long ago when hierarchical structures were a target thing. In those days people were more related on each other. As there has been no social solution in cases of illness or unemployment, for instance, the family was the only solution to help one in such crises. Furthermore the people were living together in tribes , where all generations came together, so the group-feeling was very strong. Nowadays people, especially in the Western cultures, try to create a system of individuality and independence: children should be reared in a way that they are become independent very early and more generations families living in same house together are hardly to find. But of course there are still areas where networks play an important role. Looking in the internet, for instance, one can find an immense number of networks and communities. Although individuality is quite important, furthermore networks play a more and more important role in the business world, as researchers found out that economy is a compact netting of social networks. (Krupp 1996: 290) But Nevertheless, the role of social networks differs between the cultures. In Japan, for instance, business networks have existed for hundreds of years and play an essential role, while Western cultures have just started to discover their importance in business. As the Japanese economy is playing an increasingly important role as a leader and economic superpower in the world (second largest economy on the globe) (De Mente 2005: 140), one may assume that by copying the Japanese networks, one can also copy their success. By looking at these Japanese networks and analysing them, this essay will try to prove, that the Western cultures can learn and benefit from these networks. To make the origin of the Japanese networks understandable to the reader the second chapter is going to look at the main aspects of the Japanese society. The third chapter looks at the networks in Japan and their role in Japanese business, starting with the first form Zaibatsu, from its beginning until the Second World War.