Japan's Computer and Communications Industry: The Evolution of Industrial Giants and Global Competitiveness

By Martin Fransman | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This book is about the evolution of the technologies, forms of organization, firms, industries, government policies, and institutions that have shaped the Japanese information and communications (IC) sector, arguably the most important sector in the Japanese economy. This sector has not been as outstanding globally as the Japanese motor car or consumer electronics sectors, but it has been far more successful than, say, the Japanese chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. This book explains why.

An enormous number of debts have accumulated in the preparation of this book, which has taken some nine years and more than 600 personal interviews to complete. While not all those who should be acknowledged can be acknowledged here, mention must be made of some who have been important in the writing of this book. To begin with, I owe a debt to a number of thinkers who have provided the inspirational fuel that has kept this project going. These thinkers are united in their greater commitment ultimately to explaining the complexities and subtleties that are part and parcel of the process of change in the real world than to the formal elegance of their arguments. These thinkers include older generations--such as Adam Smith, Alfred Marshall, and Joseph Schumpeter--as well as contemporary intellectuals like Alfred Chandler, Ron Dore, Chris Freeman, Brian Loasby, Dick Nelson, Edith Penrose, Nathan Rosenberg, David Teece, and Oliver Williamson. While many of their ideas are to be found threaded through this book, I remain responsible for the interpretations provided.

Many other academics have also been important in the making of this book. They include my colleagues at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), University of Tokyo, where on two occasions, in 1988 and again in 1992, I held the NTT Visiting Professorship of Telecommunications. Special mention must be made of the late Professor Takanori Okoshi as well as Professors Yoichiro Murakami, Kei Takeuchi, Takeshi Hiromatsu, Fumio Kodama, Hiroyuki Sakaki, and Yasuhiko Arakawa, and the many non- Japanese visiting professors, like James Merz, who shared their insights into the Japanese science and technology system with me. On both occasions, Ikuko Suganuma provided efficient help as well as friendly support. Masashi Shirabe, a postgraduate attached to RCAST, gave invaluable assistance in wading through the daunting archives of the Ministry of Communications, and through the histories of the Japanese IC companies and other material on the sector, in an ultimately rewarding attempt better to understand the crucial 1920s and 1930s, which played such an important role in laying the foundations for controlled competition and the sector in general. (In view of the sections of this book devoted to NTT, it is worth noting that NTT itself had nothing to do with

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