2015 Volume 14 Issue 4 Pages 217-230
This study employs data collected from a questionnaire survey of 97 business operations (factories) in Japan's electric and electronics industry to measure gemba-level and market-level competitiveness based on the framework of Fujimoto (2003). In addition, the employment situations within these sites were surveyed. The results of these surveys revealed that, as strengths of the electric industry gemba in Japan, 1) these gemba are superior in all metrics of competitiveness except for manufacturing cost, relative to overseas sites in the same companies; and 2) the high level of responsiveness to customers is the major source of market-level competitiveness. Nevertheless, the primary issue faced by these gemba is the skewed age composition of the full-time employees. There are few workers to carry forward necessary skills into future, and the labor costs of the veteran workers are increasing. Japan's manufacturing gemba must develop manufacturing competencies and improve design and development capabilities, in addition to nurturing younger personnel, to gain and sustain competitive advantage.