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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Journal of High Technology Management Research, Volume 13, Issue 2, Autumn 2002, Pages 143–156
This paper is an empirical study of the effects of competition strategy on research and development (R&D). Analysis of survey data from Japanese high-technology firms in consumer electronics, communications, precise machinery, and pharmaceuticals showed that the competitive strategies directed toward higher added-value and product differentiation exerted more impact on R&D than that aimed at cost leadership, and that strategies with broad market ambits were more important. We also found R&D to be fairly well integrated with strategic management. In sum, to enhance competitive advantage, Japanese high-technology companies tend to exploit R&D to create differentiated products with high added-value to supply a broad range of markets.
The importance of research and development (R&D) in Japanese economic activity is well substantiated by the statistics. Corporate expenditure in R&D has been maintained at 2% of GDP since the late 1980s, which in turn accounted on average for 75% of the annual totals (Science and Technology Agency, 1999). Though spending moderated in the early 1990s due to the slowing economy, the numbers have reverted back to trend in the 3 years from 1995 (Science and Technology Agency, 1999). Fundamentally, R&D in Japanese corporations tend to be devoted to commercializing technology, to enhance competitiveness, stimulate demand, expedite marketing, and to produce economies of scale and multiple market effects Baba et al., 1995, Balachandra, 1990 and Liao & Greenfield, 1998. In particular, an increasing number of companies subscribe to the belief that R&D can accelerate the introduction and application of technology to enhance and create demand, market value, and competitive advantage (Science and Technology Agency, 1995–1999). R&D has emerged as a key factor in Japanese business. In recent years, many firms have attained strong domestic and international market positions in products created and developed by high-technology R&D Hitachi, 1999, Matsushita Communication Industrial, 1999 and Science and Technology Agency Japan, 1989–1999. The behavior of Japanese strategic management towards high-technology R&D has been explored in a number of studies Herbert, 1990, Hull et al., 1985, Kuwahara et al., 1989, Liao & Greenfield, 1998, Ohmae, 1985, Science and Technology Agency Japan, 1989–1999 and Subramanian, 1990. Though important insights were obtained, empirical investigation into the relationships and links between these two core corporate activities has been limited. Following the approach of a previous work (Liao & Greenfield, 2000), we employ survey data to quantify and test the impact of the fundamental competitive strategies of cost leadership, product differentiation, and high value-added on the direction and scope of R&D in Japanese high-technology industry and manufacturing. In addition to the desideratum of enhancing value-added from new products, in such firms, R&D carries the expectation that technical breakthroughs would create values greater than that obtainable under trend conditions in the market. To extend the impact analysis beyond standard considerations of cost leadership and product differentiation, we propose hypotheses to test the importance of these two strategies relative to that aimed at higher added-value.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our empirical results suggest that competitive strategies significantly affect the direction and scope of R&D in Japanese high-technology corporations. The data support Hypothesis 1, Hypothesis 2 and Hypothesis 3, which indicate that greater importance was assigned in this respect to higher added-value and product differentiation than cost leadership. Hypothesis 4, Hypothesis 6 and Hypothesis 7 found partial empirical support, allowing the conclusion that R&D tended to be fairly well integrated and to be broadly oriented towards the market and market development. Since Hypothesis 5 was rejected by the data, this suggests that the impact of competitive strategies on R&D does not significantly differ across representative technology-based subsectors. Most of our survey respondents were large multinational corporations (MNCs), possessing multiple lines of businesses and the capacity to develop and manufacture high-technology products to satisfy a wide range of domestic and international demands. It is easy to understand why competitive strategies with relatively broad market ambits would exert greater influence on R&D. Our results further suggest that diversification significantly widens the opportunities for R&D to take effect in different markets, especially with respect to economies of scale. However, since technology-based MNCs have been successful in achieving economies of scale in production, they would be less inclined to emphasize FCL and FD strategies. Since the respondent firms were found to stress higher value-added and product differentiation in competition through R&D, this strategic emphasis suggests that Japanese high-technology companies tend to be relatively ambitious in applying new technology to sophisticated products, hand in hand with exploring new market opportunities on a broad front. Only to the extent that products were developed for specific situations would these firms attach appropriate importance to the focus-segment higher value-added strategy. On the other hand, firms in the selected industries of consumer electronics and communications, precise machinery, and pharmaceuticals tended to similarly evaluate the importance of each competitive strategy with regard to R&D. We discovered a fair degree of integration between strategic management and R&D. This implies that if (say) a high-technology firm decided to pursue product differentiation by focusing on a particular market segment, it would optimally think in parallel about R&D with respect to products and business processes. Product-R&D may include developing specific lines to satisfy targeted demand, while process-R&D may be initiated for quality improvement and quality maintenance in line with the targeted demand. The findings further suggest that the Japanese high-technology firm was willing to pursue integration because it supported decision consistency between strategic objectives and R&D. In particular, strategy-consistent R&D would enable competitiveness to be further enhanced by cost reduction, improved product quality, and through innovations which create market opportunities. On the financial side, integration can more efficiently guide the allocation of corporate resources into R&D investment. The increased competitiveness following from integrated R&D would in turn determine the future direction for technology to support new product development and create new markets. In particular, the firm can maintain and enhance competitive advantage by supplying products carrying increasingly novel and sophisticated features over time. In particular, this strategy requires the design and implementation of R&D to introduce new products pari passu with forecasted changes in demand. The firm would then be able to defend against existing as well as potential competition. On the other hand, though Japanese high-technology firms generally subscribed to the importance of high added-value and product differentiation, consistently with strategic integration, they were found to be very aware of the costs involved. It is suggested that future research should explore the effects of competitive strategies beyond the six hypotheses tested in this paper, and to introduce these considerations into the real options and portfolio approach to the evaluation of IT investment for R&D Kfir, 2000 and McGrath & Macmillan, 2000. Competitive strategies lead to different patterns of business activities to suit different market and technological environments, while different competition and growth conditions and prospects are likely to induce new strategic initiatives. High-technology firms must continuously assess market and environmental changes when formulating competition strategy and determining the direction and scope of integrated R&D. In this respect, longitudinal research would be particularly useful in exploring the performance and contributions of R&D to the growth and competitiveness of high-technology firms, both in Japan and other OECD countries. We close by observing that, to the extent that the sample context and hypotheses overlap, the present results are consistent with the findings of a previous study involving Australian high-technology firms (Liao & Greenfield, 2000).