There are very few existing studies that focus on the internal headquarter organization in relation to knowledge transfer or innovation in overseas units. It is almost as if there is an implicit assumption that headquarter members ought to be proactive in transferring knowledge or information to overseas units. Thus, this study investigates the bottlenecks of the process in the transfer of product development tasks to overseas units, with particular focus on the psychological resistance of headquarter engineers. A detailed case study of a Japanese automobile supplier revealed the following problems that were faced by headquarter engineers: lack of motivation to business in emerging markets, perception gaps about original developers, and a high turnover rate of local engineers. Next, how the psychological resistance of headquarter engineers, which originate from these problems either directly or indirectly interferes with the transfer of development tasks, was explained by two paths, that is, decline in motivation toward information sharing and technical advices, and lack of communication channels. To promote the overseas expansion of development tasks, which is necessary for emerging market strategies, it will be critical to manage the causes and effects of the psychological resistance of headquarter engineers.
The three criteria proposed by Albert and Whetten (1985) for organizational identity were summarized as (a) central, (b) distinctive, and (c) enduring. They reinforce a traditional image of identity as (a) unparalleled, (b) unique, and (c) unchanging over time. Ashforth and Mael (1989), representative work of social identification, understand this to be the case. However, Albert and Whetten (1985) expanded (a), (b), and (c) and asserted that (a′) if identities are stated, several identities may exist and not just one, (b′) if a comparison with others and self-classification can be performed, then an identity need not be unique, and (c′) if an identity has continuity, it may change over time. Based on this, the range of application for the concept of identity can be extended to organizations, enabling an analysis of organizational identity, particularly an analysis of organizational identity change.
The “way” of various companies have traditionally emphasized on gaining acceptance of the way by organizations and individuals as is and on the strengthening of control. However, in the case of Komatsu Ltd., those who have accepted the way have probably changed it. In this case, Komatsu's purpose was to develop personnel by entrusting them with the management of overseas sites to improve competitiveness. However, when instilling the Komatsu way overseas, the overseas sites added examples and detailed explanations so that non-production departments could improve their understanding. Thus, localization alone cannot change the way. If a way is considered to be a certain type of organizational routine, this case study suggests the possibility of deployment of the way to other business units or overseas sites causing changes to organizational routines.
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.
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