In addition, a second concern might well deserve the attention of technology leaders. It is well known from almost every example in consumer electronics how tightly linked standards questions are to competitive issues. The straggle to define HDTV standards around the world is one example, and there are many others. Another example is Digital Versatile (or Video) Disk standards. The agreement of five U.S. computer related firms (IBM, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Apple) to adopt a single standard for the DVD storage media in 1995 removed a major barrier to the development of the DVD industry by bringing together two rival groups led by Sony and Toshiba.17 In 1997, however, new obstacles arose as splits again occurred among the ten companies that originally agreed on a single standard.18 This example not only highlights the importance of de facto standards alliances, but also indicates the key role which de facto standards-setting plays in the complex relationships among Japanese and U.S. companies.

What steps might be taken to ensure opportunities for equitable participation and returns as the number and influence on markets of such consortia grow? What are responsibilities of and legitimate roles for governments in such consortia? This deserves more in depth study to divert what seems likely to become a growing source of friction, as debates about the WTO role in technology already illustrate.19

Notes and References

1  

Council on Competitiveness, Endless Frontier, Limited Resources , Washington, D.C., 1996.

2  

Government of Japan, Management and Coordination Agency, Report on the Survey of Research and Development, various issues, 1993-1997.

3  

Tsuneo Nakahara, "Strategic Mutual Outsourcing between the U.S. and Japan for Innovation and Technology Transfer in the Post Cold-War Age," paper delivered at the meeting of the U.S.-Japan Joint Task Force on Corporate Innovation, Makuhari, Japan, September 11-13, 1994.

4  

It is important to note that the suppliers of large Japanese manufacturers are often affiliated in a keiretsu, and these relationships are not arms-length.

5  

See Rajan R. Kamath and Jeffrey K. Liker, "A Second Look at Japanese Product Development," Harvard Business Review, November-December, 1994, pp. 168-169.

6  

For examples of the diversification strategies of several major Japanese companies, see Branscomb and Kodama, op. cit., pp. 38-53.

7  

Ibid., p. 46.

8  

See Florida, op. cit., and Roberts, op. cit.

9  

See Science and Engineering Indicators 1996 (Arlington, Va.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996). For other countries, including Japan and Germany, OECD provides data of R&D performance by industry including aggregate numbers for "total services" (i.e., non-manufacturing industries R&D performance). See OECD, DSTI (STAN)ANBERD), 1994, Appendix Tables 6-4 (U.S.), 6-5 (Japan), and 6-6 (Germany).

10  

Roberts, op. cit.

11  

Remarks by Tsuneo Nakahara at the meeting of the U.S.-Japan Joint Task Force on Corporate Innovation, Makuhari, Japan, September 11-13, 1994.

12  

Richard S. Rosenbloom and William J. Spencer, eds., Engines of Innovation: U.S. Industrial Research at the End of an Era (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press, 1996).

13  

Roberts, op. cit. Alliances are followed by central corporate research, supplier-provided technology, and licensing. For research (not development) universities were the third most important source after central corporate research and divisional research. The survey also suggests that Japanese firms benefit more than do U.S. firms from university relationships, with U.S. universities rather than Japanese universities being most prominent as the source of benefits.



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