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Unveiling the successful process of technological transition: a case study of

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Abstract:

Technological transition requires serious management decisions because it essentially means withdrawing from an existing technology, in which the company has been successful, and shifting management resources to a new technology with a high degree of uncertainty. We will analyze in detail an example of a successful transition to a new technology and draw key factors for success.

The subject of our analysis is the transition made by Matsushita Electric Group (MEG), a large corporate group representative of Japanese companies, at the time of its commercialization of plasma display panel (PDP) TVs. During commercialization process, Matsushita made a successful transition from accumulated direct current‐plasma display panel (DC PDP) to alternating current‐plasma display panel (AC PDP) through incorporating AC PDP technology from Plasmaco, Venture Company established in 1987.

Key conceptual contributions are as follows. Old and new technology can differ in their knowledge base. According to existing literature, when the knowledge base is radically different, incumbent firms have a difficulty adapting to the technological change. On the other hand, when the knowledge base is very similar, incumbent firms have no trouble adapting to the change. Beyond these established existing understandings, this paper argues that when the knowledge base is moderately different, managers can increase the likelihood of successful transition by implementing a set of organizational strategies. Among these strategies, a particularly insightful one is that through the parallel development process of both existing and new technologies, managers can eventually integrate the advantages of both technologies by implementing a flexible resource allocation mechanism to overcome the dichotomy between old and new through creation of a ‘Ba’, Japanese concept offering shared context for knowledge creation.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.2012.00689.x

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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