An International Comparison of Productivity and Product Development Performance in the Automobile Industry

  • Takahiro Fujimoto
  • Akira Takeishi
Part of the Studies in the Modern Japanese Economy book series


In 1990, Japan’s automobile industry produced about 13 million vehicles domestically (including 9 million passenger cars), accounting for more than one-quarter of annual worldwide automobile production (about 50 million vehicles). Since the beginning of the 1980s, Japan has consistently ranked as the largest producer of automobiles in the world. By sales share, including locally produced vehicles, the Japanese industry holds almost 30 per cent of the US passenger car market, nearly 10 per cent of the entire EC market, and up to 30 per cent of the market in many of those European countries which have no domestic automobile production. This chapter examines issues related to the very competitiveness which has supported the development of Japan’s automobile industry, especially issues which have become important since 1980. Admittedly, competitiveness is a very diverse concept which includes many elements, among them price (and, related to that, cost and productivity), quality (including design quality, manufacturing quality and general product quality), lead-time, advertising, and distribution and retailing capabilities. Going into analysis of all of these is beyond the scope of this chapter. Instead, it will focus on just two important themes. First, it will examine the hypothesis that in terms of productivity indices, the gap between the US and Japanese automobile industries shrank during the 1980s, signalling a possible ‘reverse comeback’ by the US industry.


Product Development Automobile Industry Product Integrity Product Development Process Japanese Industry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abernathy, W.J., K.B. Clark and A.M. Kantrow (1983) Industrial Renaissance (New York: Basic Books).Google Scholar
  2. Clark, K.B. and T. Fujimoto (1989) ‘Lead Time in Automobile Product Development: Explaining the Japanese Advantage’, Journal of Technology and Engineering Management, 6.Google Scholar
  3. Clark, K.B. and T. Fujimoto and T. Fujimoto (1990) ‘The Power of Product Integrity’, Harvard Business Review, Nov.-Dec.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, K.B. and T. Fujimoto and T. Fujimoto (1991) Product Development Performance (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press).Google Scholar
  5. Fujimoto, T. (1989) ‘Organizations for Effective Product Development: The Case of the Global Automobile Industry’, Unpublished DBA dissertation, Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
  6. Fujimoto, T. (1991) ‘Product Integrity and the Role of Designer-as-Integrator’, Design Management Journal, 2, 2 (Spring).Google Scholar
  7. Fujimoto, T. and A. Takeishi (1993) ‘Jidōsha Sangyō no Seisansei’ (Productivity in the Auto Industry), Organizational Science, 26, 4 (Nov.).Google Scholar
  8. Fujimoto, T. and J. Tidd (1993) ‘The U.K. and the Japanese Auto Industry: Adoption and Adaptation of Fordism’, Imperial College Working Paper (UK).Google Scholar
  9. Fuss, M. and L. Waverman (1990) ‘The Extent and Sources of Cost and Efficiency Differences between U.S. and Japanese Motor Vehicle Producers’, Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, 4.Google Scholar
  10. Harbor J. (1980) ‘Comparison and Analysis of Manufacturing Productivity’, final consultant report, Harbor & Associates, Dearborn Heights.Google Scholar
  11. Nippon Seisansei Hombu, Seisansei Kenkyūjo (Productivity Research Institute of Japan Productivity Centre (1991) Rōdō Seisansei no Kokusai Hikaku (International Comparison of Labour Productivity for the Year 1991).Google Scholar
  12. Office of the Study of Automotive Transportation (OSAT), University of Michigan (1992) The Competitiveness of the North American Automotive Industry (Ann Arbor, MI: OSAT).Google Scholar
  13. Womack, J., D. Jones and D. Roos (1990) The Machine that Changed the World (New York: Rawson Associates).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ryōshin Minami, Kwan S. Kim, Fumio Makino and Joung-hae Seo 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takahiro Fujimoto
  • Akira Takeishi

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations