Managing Serendipity Through Ma Thinking: Lessons of the Invention and Commercialization of Blue LED (Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics)

  • Mitsuru Kodama
  • Takehiko Yasuda


The once completely unknown Nichia Corporation of Japan succeeded in commercializing blue LED technology and went on to become the world’s leading company in this field. Shuji Nakamura, the 2014 Physics Nobel Laureate (a researcher at the company at the time, and currently, Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara), made a significant contribution to this technology. Through a detailed study of the R&D process from basic research into blue LED and its later commercial development, this chapter examines how the intentional integration of Nakamura’s serendipitous awareness as a researcher together with management’s deep understanding of this serendipity drove the dialectical processes of dynamic recursive practice activities between management and Nakamura.


  1. Axelrod, R., & Cohen, M. (1999). Harnessing Complexity: Organizational Implications of a Scientific Frontier. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  2. Carlile, P. (2002). A Pragmatic View of Knowledge and Boundaries: Boundary Objects in New Product Development. Organization Science, 13(4), 442–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carlile, P. (2004). Transferring, Translating, and Transforming: An Integrative Framework for Managing Knowledge Across Boundaries. Organization Science, 15(5), 555–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Japan Applies Physics Association Meeting. (1989). Growth and Application of GaN. Tokyo, Japan: Japan Applies Physics Association Meeting.Google Scholar
  5. Johansson, F. (2004). The Medici Effect. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  6. Kodama, M. (2007a). The Strategic Community-Based Firm. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kodama, M. (2007b). Knowledge Innovation—Strategic Management as Practice. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Kodama, M. (2007c). Project-Based Organization in the Knowledge-Based Society. Londpn: Imperial College Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kodama, M. (2009). Boundaries Innovation and Knowledge Integration in the Japanese Firm. Long Range Planning, 42(4), 463–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kodama, M. (2011). Interactive Business Communities: Accelerating Corporate Innovation Through Boundary Networks. Farnham: Gower Publishing, Ltd.Google Scholar
  11. Kodama, M. (2012). Competing Through ICT Capability. Palgrave Macmillan [Online]. Retrieved November 2012, from
  12. Kodama, M. (2014). Winning Through Boundaries Innovation. Bern: Peter Lang.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Morel, B., & Ramanujam, R. (1999). Through the Looking Glass of Complexity: The Dynamics of Organizations as Adaptive and Evolving Systems. Organization Science, 10(3), 278–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nikkei Technology On-Line. (2014). Two Important Issues Learned Before the Development of Blue LED (in Japanese), Shuji Nakamura. Retrieved from
  15. Stacey, R. (1995). The Science of Complexity: An Alternative Perspective for Strategic Change Process. Strategic Management Journal, 16(6), 477–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitsuru Kodama
    • 1
  • Takehiko Yasuda
    • 1
  1. 1.College of CommerceNihon UniversityTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations