Critical Review of Global Strategy in Japanese Small- and Medium-sized Companies: A Case of I.S.T Corporation that Dominated the Global Market

일본 중소기업의 글로벌전략과 검토 과제: 세계를 제패한 I.S.T 기업 사례

  • Kang, Sangmin (Department of Contemporary Business, International Pacific University) ;
  • Kim, Changju (College of Business Administration, Ritsumeikan University) ;
  • Tanaka, Mikihiro (College of Business Administration, Ritsumeikan University)
  • Received : 2020.07.15
  • Accepted : 2020.08.25
  • Published : 2020.08.31


In an intensively competitive global market, small-and medium-sized firms are puzzled about how to develop sustainable competitive advantages against global rivalries, thus leading satisfactory economic performance. However, despite the roles and contributions of such small-and medium-sized firms in the local community and national economies in Japan, little guidance has been offered to the practical issues related to their strategic behaviors toward global management. To fill this notable knowledge gap, this study aims to investigate the conditions in which how Japanese small-and medium-sized could dominates global market, which is one of key challenges in the literature of small business and entrepreneurship. To obtain better insights to this research area, this study undertakes an in-depth interview survey with I.S.T (Industrial Summit Technology) Corporation that shows off the highest global market share (40 per cent) with seamless polyimide tube product widely used in office automation equipment (e.g., copiers and printers). This method of survey is designed to deeply understand historical considerations about how I.S.T Corporation could dominate in the global market of such seamless polyimide tube product. Based on findings drawn from an interview, this study identifies five major factors enabling I.S.T Corporation to be a competitive global hidden company: vision sharing through founder's entrepreneurship, core competence, strategic network, risk management, and employee engagement. Specifically, to become a global hidden champion, sharing the vision motivating employees to partake in shaping company's future will be the first step on the road to global success through founder's entrepreneurship. However, in order to achieve such a vision, the importance of company's core competence cannot be overemphasized, which differentiates your customer solution with those of competitors. As such, a group of experts will be naturally formed and demonstrates your expertise in the global market, thereby building sustainable competitiveness. On the other hand, to maintain sustainable competitiveness, it is necessary to make up for the weaknesses small-and medium-sized firms suffer from competitive resources while strengthening their own strengths through strategic networks with external organizations. Here, every company has to understand the critical role of risk management, which is essential in this process of being global company so as not to lose your own strengths. Last but not least, do not forget the significant effects of employee engagement in firm performance. To enhance employees' engagement, a company has to create an ideal organization culture which fits into company's history and personality. In doing so, such organization culture can allow the vision and strategy to be implemented into detailed business tactics while facilitating employees to challenge the status quo by experimenting with creative ideas.


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