This paper is a case study of a professional organization for offering customer solutions (POOCS) at Company A, a global materials supplier. Positioned in the upstream supply chains, Company A has the ability to handle materials, and most of its direct customers are second- and third-tier companies in the supply chain. Company A had difficulty understanding the general direction of the supplier system and industry trends for the very same reasons. However, by creating a POOCS, engineers at Company A were able to understand external information of Chain Captains and Trend Settlers and propose solutions without being distracted by semantic noise. In other words, the POOCS functioned much like the gatekeepers described by Allen (1977), who did not find any relationship between the existence of a gatekeeper and performance; however, in the case of Company A, performance clearly improved with the creation of the POOCS to act as a gatekeeper.
Business management research in Japan categorizes resources into four categories: people, goods, money, and information. Among these, there has been a strong focus on information-based resources, which are company-specific. The notion that these resources are the basis of competitive advantage and inimitability has been considered the reason that Japanese companies exhibited a high level of international competitiveness in the 1980s. However, Japan’s international competitiveness has been declining since the 1990s. In fact, (a) information-based resources include not only information but also the capability to utilize that information, (b) resources with low inimitability are mixed in with information-based resources, and (c) information-based resources exhibit stickiness not to companies but to people and goods. Therefore, information-based resources do not automatically become sources of competitiveness. These facts were not comprehended until the 1980s, because Japanese companies were unconsciously able to accumulate information-based resources with high inimitability through Japanese-style management systems, like the lifetime commitment system. However, these preconditions for Japanese competitiveness were lost in the 1990s, resulting in an outflow of information-based resources embodied in workers and the decline of Japanese companies’ international competitiveness.
Amateur creations are one source of Japan’s competitiveness in the content industry. This study summarizes prior research on amateur manga (comic), called doujinshi, in terms of its history and current status, overseas trends, gender aspects, and copyrights. This study then develops a research model with three hypotheses on the relationship between creation and monetization across multiple content categories. To test these hypotheses, an online survey of 2,593 individuals was conducted on the creation and monetization of manga and music. The survey’s findings were as follows: (1) Consumers who create works in one content category tend to do so in other categories. (2) Consumers who monetize their own work in one content category tend to do so in other categories. (3) Consumers who create works in multiple content categories tend to monetize their own works. This study also shows the current status of creation and monetization in Japanese manga and music.
Dalian, China, has been noted for its software industrial agglomeration. Many studies have mentioned Silicon Valley, the archetypal high-tech industrial agglomeration, stating that companies gained the necessary resources by becoming familiar with the flexible business practices in the region. This is conventional wisdom. However, such a trend is barely found in Dalian. Much of the business of Dalian’s software industry is related to Japan, and a strong influence of Japanese multinational enterprises (MNEs) exists. Key enterprises within the industrial agglomeration adopt Japanese companies’ managerial system and then be able to gain business from their Japanese clients. In other words, even though both are high-tech industrial agglomerations, in Silicon Valley, companies were required to become familiar with local business practices to acquire resources, while in Dalian, local key enterprises were required to take on business practices of their customer MNEs to gain resources. Thus, it is not easy to make generalizations about high-tech industrial agglomeration models based on the case of Silicon Valley, which may, in fact, be a special case.
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