By Fujimoto Takahiro (Professor, University of Tokyo)
Translated by Brian Miller
2007 / 167 pages / paperback
Originally published in Japanese in 2003 in a somewhat different form by Chuokoron-Shinsha as Noryoku Kochiku Kyoso: Nihon no Jidosha Sangyo wa Naze Tsuyoi no ka.
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“A lot of water has passed under the bridge since this book first appeared in Japanese in 2003. Automakers prone to dramatic fluctuations in business and financial performance have-well-undergone more fluctuations in business and financial performance. Equally significant, however, is the ‘boring’ side of the industry: the automakers-led by Toyota and Honda-who remain unflaggingly profitable and who simply keep on growing.
“Shifts in currency exchange rates might buffet automakers’ price competitiveness in export markets. A phenomenally successful model might inflate an automaker’s earnings for a year or two. But the automakers that keep chugging along through it all are those that focus less on such aspects of ‘surface competitiveness’ than on the ‘deep competitiveness’ essentials of training employees, minimizing inventories, improving quality, shortening lead time, and otherwise fortifying their organizational capability. Building capabilities in manufacturing is a long-term challenge, and the basic emphases of the book published in 2003 remain as pertinent today as then.”
From the author’s introduction