Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2008 (Revised December 2010)

Chi Mei Optoelectronics

by Willy C. Shih, Chintay Shih, Jyun-Cheng Wang and Ho Howard Yu

Abstract

Chi Mei is a Taiwanese industrial group that makes a major diversification into the technology intensive TFT-LCD flat panel display industry. Because the diversification is far away from its core competence in petrochemicals, it is an opportunity to examine how the firm was able to become a global leader in the relatively short span of ten years. Such organic diversifications are relatively unusual by Western standards, especially into technologies and markets that have relatively high entry barriers and where there is no deep-rooted national technological or scientific foundation. As such Chi Mei is an interesting vehicle to examine the rise of a major Asian industrial cluster with global scope which has no participants or competitors in the West. The case can also be used to expose students to the global supply chain for key information technology components. Taiwan and Korea are today the major world centers for the manufacture of semiconductors (in particular DRAMs and FLASH memory) and flat panel displays. Taiwan is also the center for notebook computer manufacturing, and Taiwanese companies, through their China-based manufacturing and assembly operations, drive 60% of the IT exports from China. Yet few students even know the identity of these major global players. Taiwan- and Korea-based TFT-LCD flat panels are the critical components in notebook computers, computer monitors, and flat panel televisions from essentially all well known global brands.

Keywords: Globalized Firms and Management; Supply Chain; Corporate Strategy; Diversification; Information Technology; Electronics Industry; Manufacturing Industry; China; South Korea; Taiwan;

Citation:

Shih, Willy C., Chintay Shih, Jyun-Cheng Wang, and Ho Howard Yu. "Chi Mei Optoelectronics." Harvard Business School Case 608-123, May 2008. (Revised December 2010.)