The Role of the Japanese in Developing New Technology
The character of industrial research and development went a dramatic change in the later parts in the 20th century. With most information about new research and technology being available on the public domain because of the nature of the market and legal constraints, the basic advantages of developing new fundamental technology was largely negated by companies, which had superior manufacturing and marketing technologies. This is because these companies with more expertise in “applied” research were able to transfer technology from the lab to the marketplace faster. This is evident when we consider most successful new businesses founded in the late 20th century. These businesses were not those who developed the most innovative or fundamental technologies. Instead these were those firms who were able to effectively utilize and exploit these technologies by making them into commercially successful products. As their market strength grew, they diversified into different product lines based on their applied research labs, which could develop innovative uses for existing technology.
This is apparent when we consider that Japanese companies went from being regarded worldwide as mere “copycats” of American technology to being regarded as major innovators of the use of technology. This paper attempts to explain the success of Japanese technological firms in relation to the Global research and development strategy adopted by them as tries to show that this is a direct result of the Japanese nemawashi and its judicious investment in long term technology that appears promising.
The emergence of new, previously untapped scientific nodes around the world led to technology becoming truly global. Even though, the United States remained the leader in developing new fundamental technology, there was emerging, an increased source of potentially relevant knowledge across the globe. Because of this emerging information, companies felt a need to establish a presence in these areas to effectively utilize and access this new research from foreign universities and research labs. Previously, research and development organizations were located close to the corporate base because most of the decisions regarding R&D were made there. This would no longer possible if these firms were to effectively utilize and commercialize new research on a truly global scale. This led to this new model of managing global research and development, to either provide the home base with new sources of technology or to be used to transfer technology into a foreign market to gain competitive advantage.
For years, “Japanese companies have come to the US, bought or borrowed the best American technology and sold it back as finished products (Susan Moffat 84).” In this context, the Japanese have been incredibly successful in managing their global industrial research and development labs and the scientific networks that they formed....