Localization and product feature differentiation for a Japanese electronic and electric parts manufacturer: Case study of company a in Shanghai

Yasuhisa Abe, Hongmei Jing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is a case study of a sales subsidiary that handles intermediate goods for Company A, a large Japanese electronics and electric parts manufacturer in Shanghai, PR China. In the study, we researched how vertically disintegrated business transactions affected customer makeup, localization of human resources, and the relationship between the Japanese head office and local subsidiaries. Recently, Japanese electronics and electric parts manufacturers have often undertaken the sale of intermediate goods. They have combined sales to both foreign manufacturers, such as Chinese makers, and to Japanese manufacturers, including companies within their own business groups. In this paper, we looked at three sales departments that handled intermediate goods for Company A. We focused on how to develop a market strategy and concomitant human resource strategy to respond to vertical disintegration, which has been expanding recently, as well as to conventional vertical integration. We concluded that among the three sales departments, the first sales department had a high percentage of sales to Chinese corporations and was promoting the most Chinese staff to management positions. We also found that by accepting proposals from local subsidiaries it was developing and selling products that met the needs of the Chinese market. On the other hand, the second and third sales departments had a low percentage of sales to Chinese corporations, were promoting few Chinese staff to management positions, and were developing almost no specialized products for the Chinese market. In the third sales department in particular, sales to group companies and other Japanese corporations accounted for almost all of total sales, and this department had made no progress in promoting local staff to management positions. The reason is that this department sells vertically integrated products, which are customized parts jointly developed with the customers from the design and development stage to meet the customers' needs. Therefore a high level of technological capability is required from the customer as well. For this reason, the Japanese head office makes the selections and decisions regarding customers, sales prices, and quantities, and local subsidiaries simply do backup work. On the other hand, the second sales department sells low-priced products and must increase sales to Chinese companies. In the future, both the second and the third sales departments will have to move more aggressively to localize their human resources. At the same time, Chinese managers in interviews pointed out that it was necessary to increase the speed and efficiency of head office decision making and build up support systems for local subsidiaries, instead of the headquarters having authority over transactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-266
Number of pages19
JournalGeographical Review of Japan, Series B
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


Dive into the research topics of 'Localization and product feature differentiation for a Japanese electronic and electric parts manufacturer: Case study of company a in Shanghai'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this