Inderscience Publishers

How can established firms survive technological discontinuities? A case study on the Japanese rechargeable battery industry

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

Quite a number of established firms lose their momentum during the transition phase from a conventional technology to a new technology. How can established firms recover? We attempt to explore this question through a comparative case study analysis in the Japanese rechargeable battery industry. We extensively examine Sanyo, an established firm which recovered after a technology transition, by comparing it to a newcomer, Sony. We also compare it to Matsushita Battery, an established firm which did not successfully recover. These analyses lead to the following conclusions: There are conditions that give them opportunities for recovery. New applications or new attributes are often triggered by the introduction to the market of a new technology. This is a turning point in the competition between established firms and newcomers. Newcomers become conservative as they elevate their status in the conventional market, whereas established firms are freed from previous constraints and consequently find it easier to adopt new strategies. However, not every established firm can seize the opportunity to recover, or rather, make the necessary change to new attributes. An 'integrated' organisational structure sometimes becomes a fundamental factor for employing an appropriate technology-portfolio strategy.

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