Annals of Business Administrative Science
Mother Factory vs. Model Factory
Comparative Study of International Knowledge Transfer
The production systems of Japanese companies are considered to be firm-specific advantages, which lead to superior productivity. The mother factory system, exemplified by Toyota Motor Corporation, has been used as a primary method for transferring Japanese production systems overseas. However in recent years, some companies, such as Hyundai Motor Company of Korea, have begun using a different way to transfer production methods overseas. This paper terms this method the “model factory system” and compares it with the mother factory system within the framework of knowledge transfer theory. In this framework, production systems are regarded as knowledge held by the home country. In this analytical framework, members, tools, and manuals represent knowledge that is directly moved; skills, organizations, and layouts represent knowledge that can be reproduced by the recipient. This framework was used to analyze cases of production system transfer overseas by Toyota Motor Corporation and Hyundai Motor Company. It was shown that the mother factory system primarily transfers knowledge from the home country’s factories, whereas the model factory system transfers knowledge from the corporate headquarters.