Apprenticeship and product quality: empirical analysis on the sake brewing industry

Keisuke Hori, Yusuke Hoshino, Hiroshi Shimizu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Do apprenticeships enhance product quality? Whether guilds and apprenticeships have promoted technological change has been debated, but the issue remains unsettled because of the lack of data which allows us to empirically assess technological change by apprenticeships in the comparison with technological change by non-apprenticeships. By scrutinizing apprenticeships in the sake brewing industry and utilizing the national sake quality competition results and the master brewer list, this study examines to what extent the craftsmen trained through an apprenticeship enhanced or reduced product quality. The empirical results indicate that the training in apprenticeships actually decreases the probability of winning quality competitions, which indicates that apprenticeships do not improve product quality. Thus, we discuss why apprenticeships was a dominant form of training and learning, even if they had little bona fide utility for product quality. We show that brewers originally utilized apprenticeship-type practices adopted for migrant labor to reduce production costs. This study also shows that the breweries began to create a positive imagery associated with apprenticeships and sake quality from the 1980s even though apprenticeships actually reduce the probability of brewing high-quality sake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-64
Number of pages25
JournalManagement and Organizational History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 2
Externally publishedYes


  • Apprenticeship
  • product quality
  • quality competition
  • sake industry
  • technological change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • History
  • Strategy and Management


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