Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2009

Tokyo Electron Ltd.

by Willy C. Shih and Andrew A. King

Abstract

Tokyo Electron Ltd. operates in a constrained innovation environment, defined by modular boundaries that are long standing in the industry that it serves, the global semiconductor manufacturing industry. While the original motivation for these boundaries was division of labor and partitioning of a complex problem into manageable pieces, the company is now faced with a new innovation that crosses these boundaries and offers the opportunity to significantly improve the yield and performance of the manufacturing process. While the technical solution is straightforward, it is not clear that the company's customers are prepared to accept such a change because it would cross organizational lines that manufacturers have established for control purposes. The case frames the technical question and poses the organizational question.

Keywords: Globalized Markets and Industries; Governance Controls; Technological Innovation; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Boundaries; Manufacturing Industry; Semiconductor Industry;

Citation:

Shih, Willy C., and Andrew A. King. "Tokyo Electron Ltd." Harvard Business School Case 609-096, May 2009.