Smitka Resumé

Michael J. Smitka

Professor of Economics Cell: (540) 460-6288 Williams School of Commerce Office: (540) 458-8625 Washington and Lee University Fax: (540) 458-8639 204 W Washington St., Huntley Hall 125B Skype: jidoshasangyo Lexington, Virginia 24450-0303 Email:

Research Agendas


  • Follow new technology in the industry, particularly the role of suppliers in that process.
  • Actively blog on the industry, and respond to interview and article requests from the media.
  • Recent conference presentations on the future of the domestic Japanese industry, on the technology role of suppliers, on "roadmaps" as a tool for coordinating innovation, and on the political economy of the industry in China.
  • Miscellaneous projects in business history, including the origins of legacy costs in the United States, the shifting strategic role of suppliers and the implications of new entry and product proliferation.


Developing research agenda on automotive industry issues drawing on 30 years of teaching about the Chinese economy bolstered by a growing proficiency in reading Chinese. My initial focus is on the political economy of the industry, with an additional line of work to develop an understanding of the economic geography of the domestic industry including agglomeration economies.


  • Research supported by approximately seven years residence in Japan and fluent Japanese reading and speaking ability. Phasing out due to lack of audience, reflecting in the disappearance of Japan-related conferences and the collapse of several related academic associations.
  • Ongoing book project on economic and social change since 1990. Shifts in consumption affecting the rhythm of daily life, the rise of car-based suburbs replete mall-based retailing, and the transition in working lives with the shift to a urban-based service economy. Draws upon standard statistical sources, interviews, particpant-observation and translations of portions of recent literary prize awards.
  • Miscellaneous short-term projects, including presentations to policymakers in Washington.


  • Ph.D. in Economics: Yale, 1989.
  • A.B. cum laude in East Asian Studies: Harvard, 1975.

Select Work and Grant experience

  • Faculty, Department of Economics, Washington and Lee University, 1986-present.
  • Acting Director, East Asian Studies, 2009-10 and 2014-2015.
  • Fulbright Research Fellow, Chiba University Faculty of Law and Economics, Japan, 2006-7.
  • Member, ASIANetwork Fulbright-Hays Pearl River Delta Project, Guangdong China, Summer 2005.
  • Japan Foundation Short Term Research Grant and Visiting Researcher, Gakushuin University, 2002.
  • Participant, NEH Economic History Seminar, Universität München, Munich, Summer 1997.
  • Visiting Professor, School of International Relations, International University of Japan, Winter 1997.
  • Researcher, MIT International Motor Vehicle Program, 1992 -1994.
  • Visiting Prof. & Japan Foundation Fellow, Faculty of Law, Rikkyo University, Tokyo, 1991-92.
  • Monbusho Joint International Research Project, Kyushu Univ., April 1991-July 1992.
  • Fulbright Dissertation Fellowship, Hitotsubashi University, September 1983-January 1985.
  • Syndicate Loans, International Finance Center, Bank of Tokyo (New York), 1978-80.

Select Publications (not including book reviews)


  • Author, Competitive Ties: Subcontracting in the Japanese Automotive Industry, Columbia University Press, 1991.
  • Editor, Japanese Economic History, 1600-1960, 7 volumes, Garland Publishing, 1998.


  • "The Changing Dynamics of Innovation in the Auto Supply Chain". Journal of Business & Economics 6:4, 799-821, April 2015. Coauthored with Peter Warrian.
  • "Benefits Policy at General Motors", Automotive History Review, Spring 2012.
  • "Toyota and Japanese Management: Behind the Recall." March 2010, The Oriental Economist.
  • "Changing retail, changing lifestyles: From mom & pop to malls." February 2010, The Oriental Economist.
  • "Japan, Economy." The Far East and Australasia, annual, 2006-2011. London: Routledge.
  • "The Asian Automotive Industry," Encyclopedia of Asia, Berkshire Publishing, 2002.
  • "Foreign Policy and the US Automotive Industry: By Virtue of Necessity?" Business and Economic History, 2nd series, v. 28:2, Winter 1999.
  • "Automobiles and U.S. Foreign Policy," in Bruce W. Jentleson and Thomas G. Paterson, editors, Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations, Oxford University Press for the Council on Foreign Relations, 1997.
  • "Contracting without Contracts: How the Japanese Manage Organizational Transactions," Chapter 4 in Sim Sitkin & Robert Bies, eds., The Legalistic Organization, Sage, 1994.
  • "Opinion: Are U.S. Auto Exports the Growth Industry of the 1990s?" Sloan Management Review, 35:1, Fall 1993.
  • "Economy, Japanese," lead economy entry, Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Kodansha, 1993.

  •  (Decline of the Japanese Automotive Industry),  (Toyo Keizai), January 11, 1993.
  • "Business-Business Relations: Auto Parts Sourcing in Japan," Japan’s Economic Challenge. U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee, December 1990.
  • "The Invisible Handshake: The Development of the Japanese Automotive Parts Industry," Business and Economic History, 2nd series, v. 19, 1990.


Ryutaro Komiya, Masahiro Okuno and Kotaro Suzumura (eds.), Industrial Policy of Japan, Academic Press, 1988. (Co-translator with Anil Khosla)


Autos and Economics at
http://autosandeconomics.blo 200,000+ hits to date, not including posts reblogged at commercial sites including Alphaville and The Truth About Cars .

Media Interactions: Columns, Shows, Citations in Interviews

  • Radio: NPR "feature" shows including Happenings, WLIP (Kenosha), WMRA;s Virginia Insight,; KIRO Radio Seattle and WTOP Radio Washington, DC. Weekly on WWWZ (Lexington VA).
  • Print: Auto Finance News (periodic columns), Christian Science Monitor, Automotive News, Bloomberg Tokyo, New York Times (3 invited columns), Atlanta Journal-Courier, Les Echos (Paris), Exame (Brazil), Detroit Business, AP, Bloomberg Business Week, Congressional Quarterly Magazine, The Economist, Financial Times, Financial Times Deutschland, Kiplingers, LA Times, Newsweek, O Globo (Brazil), Superinteressante (Brazil), South China Morning Post, Toyo Keizai (in Japanese), Vejo (Brazil), Washington Post and many others.
  • TV: Business News Network (Canada); Bloomberg TV; Bloomberg News Asia; NHK Project Wisdom (Japan); WDBJ (Roanoke VA).

Select Recent Working Papers and Presentations


    • China’s Auto Industry: Success Despite Policy. Under revision, International Journal of Automotive
    • Technology and Management. One of five invited papers from the 2015 GERPISA conference. 2015:
  • Innovation in the Supply Chain: Lessons from the Automotive News PACE Competition. Gerpisa, Paris, June.
  • [Automotive] Industrial Policy in China: successes and failures. Gerpisa, Paris, June.
  • Industrial History (and not business history): Themes from the Automotive Industry. Industry Studies Association, Kansas City, May.
  • China’s Challenges: Lessons from Japan. Keynote talk, Asian Studies Program, James Madison

University, February. 2014:

Joint with Peter Warrian: Technology Roadmaps and R&D: Lessons from the Automotive News PACE

Awards, Industry Studies Association, June. 2013

  • Technology Roadmaps and R&D: Lessons from the Automotive News PACE Awards, Industry Studies Association, June.
  • The Decline of the Japanese Auto Industry. UMTRI Conference on the Japanese automotive industry. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute), April.
  • "Global Impact Of Supply Chain Disruption." Bloomberg Japan Conference, Japan Society, New York, June 7, 2011.
  • "Vehicular Electronics: Supplier Issues." Presentation, 18th Annual Automotive Outlook Symposium, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit, June 2, 2011.
  • "Economic Implications of Japan’s Earthquake." Closed briefing, US Department of State, Washington, DC, March 24, 2011.



  • "Organized Retailing in India: Issues and Outlook" by Rajeev Kohli and Jagdish Baghwati, Invited discussant, India Center at the Graduate School of Business and the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, November 5, 2010.
  • "Can Kan? – Japan’s Economy Towards 2013: Policy Drift in an Era of Opportunity." Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State and the National Intelligence Council conference on "The DPJ at One: What’s Changed and What’s Not", Arlington, VA September 30, 2010.
  • "The Rise of Benefits Policy at GM." Society of Automotive Historians, Tupelo MS, March 2010.
  • "Japan’s Retail Revolution." Business History Conference, Athens, GA, March 2010.


  • "Japan’s Retail Revolution." Japan Economic Seminar, George Washington University meeting.
  • "Fatal Attraction: Staying in Step with Benefits Policy at GM." Business History Conference, Milan.
  • "Macroeconomy and Auto Finance." Auto Finance Risk Summit, Miami.

Current Affiliations & Professional Associations

American Economic Association; Business History Conference; Gerpisa (auto industry research network); Industry Studies Association; Society of Automotive Engineers; Society of Automotive Historians; Washington and Southeast Japan Seminar..

Recent Professional Service

  • Member, Steering Committee, GERPISA, 2016-. This is a Paris-based international consortium of academic researchers focused on the contemporary automotive industry. The Steering Committe meets every January in Paris in January and at the annual conference every June.
  • Judge, Automotive News PACE “Supplier of the Year” Award, 1994-present, the premier industry recognition for suppliers. I make site visits to evaluate finalists; present written summaries; participate in the final judging, and attend the award ceremony. To date I have visited 40+ finalists in Korea, Japan, the US, Canada and France.
  • American Advisory Committee, Japan Foundation 2011-present. Currently on the Dissertation Fellowship Subcommittee screening approximately 50 fellowship applications a year.
  • President, Virginia Consortium of Asian Studies (2003-2006).
  • Council Member, National Coordinating Committee on Japanese Library Resources, 2004-2006. Executive Committee Member and Regional Training Network Co-chair.
  • Treasurer, Washington and Southeast Japan Seminar, 2005-present.
  • Journal Referee (select): Journal of Japanese Studies, Sloan Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Enterprise & Society, Organizational Science, Industry and Corporate Change .
  • Book Manuscript Reviews: Oxford University Press, MIT Press, Yale University Press, Chicago University Press, Johns Hopkins Press, Lexington Books, Dryden Press and sundry textbook drafts..

Business Consulting

  • Royal Media Group: conference speaker, brief consulting reports.
  • Daikin Corporation Global Advisory Board (semiannual) and Daikin Corporation North American Advisory Board (annual), 2006-9.
  • "U-group", a very large (80 sales points) car dealership in Japan. July 2007.
  • Report for Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher for the US International Trade Commission Sunset Review on Antidumping Tariffs on Corrosion Resistant Steel. October 2006.

Current Teaching (not including past courses and those taught to meet departmental needs)

  • Economics 243, Industrial Organization.
  • Economics 244, The Auto Industry. Includes a segment in which I take students to Detroit.
  • Economics 274, The Chinese Economy.
  • Economics 398. Senior Capstone: Macroeconomics.

Community Service

  • United Way of Rockbridge. Board of Directors, 2012-present. President of the Board, 2013-15; variously Chair, Audit Committee; Chair, Personnel Committee, Chair, Allocations Committee, Co-Chair, Annual Fundraising Campaign.
  • The EMBA Foundation, Inc. Secretary and Treasurer, 1987-present. Handle all tax filings and financial affairs for a small foundation that works with Baptist churches in the northern Philippines.
  • Venture Crew 180, Stonewall Jackson Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. Past Unit Commissioner (3 years), Past Advisor (6 years).
  • Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, member.
  • W&L Men’s Glee Club, Senior member; Bass II.
  • Rockbridge Choral Society, Bass II
  • Democratic Party of Rockbridge County, member.

ver. January 14, 2016