Strategic Behaviors of Japanese Firms on the Technological Trajectory
Chapters 8 and 9 examined the competition for shortening the wavelength of a laser diode, from the 780-nanometer for CDs, to the 400-nanometer wavelength range. The technological problems faced in shortening the wavelength, and the approaches and solutions to it, had been widely shared among the researchers. As discussed in the previous chapter, there were different approaches and theories among researchers regarding the prospects of each laser diode material. R&D was conducted with the recognition of advantages and disadvantages of each material. In other words, it can be said that they were competing on the same technological trajectory. It had been pointed out that competitive strategy was lacking in such homogeneous competition. Certainly, R&D activities on the same technological trajectory are cumulative in nature, and, therefore, it might seem that no strategy existed in such environment. When examining it on a micro level, however, we see that the firms were indeed moving in a strategic way. Let us take the cases of Panasonic and Sumitomo Electric Industries (hereinafter referred to as Sumitomo Electric) as representative examples. Both of these firms yielded notable technological achievements, both of which received the Okochi Award. Looking at each case, you can see the strategic positioning and entry of each firm.