The trajectories of Japanese suppliers’ growth strategies ; a case study of a capital Keiretsu supplier and an independent supplier

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Jaeho Lee


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2015)


This study aims to investigate the trajectory of Japanese suppliers’ strategy on the perspective of customer, product, core competence and capital relationship.
Regarding Japanese supply system of car parts, long-term transaction and inter-organizational learning have been considered as the distinctive features which have supported Japanese car makers’ competitiveness.
Japanese car makers are trying to expand their overseas business which seems to be more prominent. On the contrary, the domestic car market has already become saturated. As a result, many suppliers whose sales have been based on the domestic car market are now facing a challenge. Considering these kinds of environmental changes, discussing suppliers’ growth strategies become more and more important.
In this study, I tried to compare a capital Keiretsu supplier with an independent supplier in the field of rubber vibration insulator, in terms of growth strategy three axes; product, market, and core-competence. The findings are as follows.
First, since capital Keiretsu suppliers have comparatively narrow range of strategic discretion, therefore these two companies’ strategies show contrast in the early stage just after establishment. The independent supplier used to belong to Mitsubishi aircraft before World WarⅡ, attempted to expand itself along the market axe. In contrast, Matsuda’s capital Keiretsu supplier who was in charge of procurement of entire items of rubber parts was limited in expanding the scope of customers.
Second, currently even though capital Keiretsu suppliers have been allowed to have much more strategic discretion then before, on the other side, they are not guaranteed of increasing order by parent companies. Therefore currently not only independent suppliers but also Keiretsu suppliers need to expand the scope of customers.
Third, in terms of non-automotive business, and oversea strategy, either Keiretsu or independent supplier’s strategy has been similar to each other since early stage of the company’s history.
Finally, in terms of core competence such as R&D and VE, the capital Keiretsu supplier gains more synergy from the collaboration with the parent company than the independent supplier.

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