During the 1970s and 1980s, most of the Satsuma mandarin-producing regions of Japan faced a crisis owing to excessive supply. However, around this time, the town of Mikkabi in Shizuoka Prefecture, whose key industry is the production of mandarin oranges, recorded remarkable market growth. This study examines the competitiveness acquired by the mandarin producers in Mikkabi that helped them survive the crisis that crippled the rest of the industry.
Among the various fruit industries in Japan, the Satsuma mandarin industry experienced the most dramatic vicissitudes of fortune. The industry grew remarkably in the 1950s and 1960s, but began to decline during the 1970s and 1980s due to oversupply. During this period of crisis, the mandarin producers in Mikkabi not only survived but actually prospered. However, Mikkabi's success in overcoming the decline remains incompletely understood. This study describes how the Mikkabi mandarin-producing region overcame the difficulties plaguing the rest of the industry and succeeded by actively building competitiveness in the volume retailer market.
Based on the analysis, we conclude that Mikkabi transformed itself in response to changes in the market and established core competitiveness in the newly growing market—the volume retailer market. Specifically, while entering the volume retailer market, mandarin producers in the Mikkabi region switched to the more competitive Aoshima variety to increase the competitiveness of their large lot produce. Thus, Mikkabi built new competitiveness in the growing volume retailer market, not in the existing small retailer market that was on the decline.
Many Japanese chemical companies have been re-evaluating the importance of research and development (R&D) since the low-growth era began during the first oil crisis. New businesses cannot succeed without the cooperation of their R&D departments. Their R&D sections were merged with their Business sections to connect research with product development more closely. As a result, the Central Research Institute became disorganized, and the volume of corporate research declined. This paper examines the history of R&D at Tokuyama Corp. I describe both the company's polysilicon production and the laboratory reform that occurred at the beginning of the 1980s.
Tokuyama's polysilicon production was a planning initiative project. Such a project required a leader who can maximize the company's investment. Yuuji Fujii, director of Tokuyama's Planning Division, headed the company's polysilicon business. He was both an engineer and a manager, which proved an effective combination. This project grew into the company's core business; they are now the world's second-largest polysilicon producer for semiconductors, after the Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation.
Laboratory reform is now considered necessary for Japan's chemical corporations. During reforms at Tokuyama Corp.'s new Fujisawa Laboratory, the old linear model was retired, and at least two of the lab's functions were changed to stimulate market creation. Takashi Yoshioka, the new R&D head, announced the “Five Management Ideas in the Laboratory” concept. Instead of a bottom-up management style, he imposed a top-down style, which is how the R&D and Business sections had worked together in the beginning.