Visions of Innovation: The Firm and Japan

Synopsis

Computers, telecommunications equipment, semiconductorsthe products and technologies of the information and communications industry (IC)have transformed our world. Most of these products were initially developed in Western countries, but by the early 1990s some of the world's largest companies in the field were Japanese. This book explains the resurgence of Japan's IC giants, their global status, and their strengths and weaknesses.Empirical scrutiny of their evolution is complemented by the author's own theory of the most appropriate mehtod for studying the dynamics of industrial change. The author argues that in order to understand the evolution of IC companies and industries, it is necessary to create a theory of the firm capable of encompassing the development of real firms in the real world in real time. This approach stresses the importance of the beliefs that are constructed in the firm under conditions of 'interpretive ambiguity', which guide the firm's decisions and its reactions to new technologies. Lengthy analyses of NEC and NTT (by far the world's largest company in terms of market value; its future currently under government scrutiny), and of the computing, switching, and optical fibre industries, illustrate these concepts. Based on over 600 interviews over eight years with Japanese leaders, this book provides important new material on the past, present, and future of Japanese industry.