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Recovering from SuccessInnovation and Technology Management in Japan$
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D. Hugh Whittaker and Robert E. Cole

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297320.001.0001

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Software's hidden challenges 1

Software's hidden challenges 1

(p.105) 6 Software's hidden challenges1
Recovering from Success

Robert E. Cole (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines another key ICT industry — packaged software — of which Japan is a huge net importer. In what goes to the heart of the modularization issue, it is shown that the large electronics firms were reluctant to unbundle hardware and software, and insisted on maintaining proprietary systems; indeed, free software was (is) frequently used to boost hardware sales. Spinning out software divisions into group companies led to the maintenance of this orientation, rather than the creation of independent software firms focused on innovation. In a so-called ‘curse of genba shugi’, it is argued that the shopfloor focus of Japanese manufacturing firms, despite its many positive contributions to productivity and quality, creates enormous pressures for customization, which adds heavy costs and forecloses benefits of standardization and corporate wide optimization that would come from the use of packaged software.

Keywords:   Japan, packaged software, customization, standardization, hardware, curse of genba shugi

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