News & Highlights

  • DECEMBER 2018

The Harbus: A conversation with Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi: Lessons to business leaders from Japanese companies

For many decades, Japan’s corporate culture has been an enigma to many. Even more puzzling still was how a small, resource-poor nation grew at one point to become the world’s second largest economy. The Harbus met with Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi to demystify what makes Japan unique and what lessons could be drawn.
  • DECEMBER 2018

HBS Working Knowledge: Honda Created a Civic for Very Light Jets. How High Will It Fly?

After thirty years of research and development, the HondaJet is now the top selling jet in the very light jet segment of the market. In this podcast, Professor Gary Pisano discusses how Honda Aircraft Corporation CEO Michimasa Fujino brought the jet to life, and must decide on ways to grow the business.
  • OCTOBER 2017

HBS Professor Tsedal Neely's New Book on Rakuten's Language Practices

Tsedal Neely, associate professor in the Organizational Behavior unit, discusses corporate language strategies and their importance for globalization in her new book "The Language of Global Succes: How a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations." Neely gives an in-depth look at the Japanese company, Rakuten, and how the firm navigates its English lingua franca mandate over a period of five years.

New Research on the Region

  • Forthcoming
  • Article
  • Journal of Financial Economics

Governance Through Shame and Aspiration: Index Creation and Corporate Behavior

By: Akash Chattopadhyay, Matthew D. Shaffer and Charles C.Y. Wang

After decades of deprioritizing shareholders' economic interests and low corporate profitability, Japan introduced the JPX-Nikkei400 in 2014. The index highlighted the country's "best-run" companies by annually selecting the 400 most profitable of its large and liquid firms. We find that managers competed for inclusion in the index by significantly increasing ROE, and they did so at least in part due to their reputational or status concerns. The ROE increase was predominantly driven by improvements in margins, which were in turn partially driven by cutting R&D intensity. Our findings suggest that indexes can affect managerial behavior through reputational or status incentives.

  • November 2018
  • Case

Komatsu Komtrax: Asset Tracking Meets Demand Forecasting

By: Willy Shih, Paul Hong and YoungWon Park

Komatsu's Komtrax system started as a way of remotely monitoring and tracking equipment for the purpose of improving operational efficiency. This case follows its evolution towards other uses including demand forecasting for its sales, marketing, and production operations.

  • October 2018
  • Case

Safecast: Bootstrapping Human Capital to Big Data

By: Ethan Bernstein and Stephanie Marton

On March 11, 2011 at 2:46pm, a 9.1-on-the-Richter-scale, six-minute long earthquake unleashed a tsunami that ravaged the Tohoku region of Japan, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power facility and releasing sufficient radioactive material into the air and ocean to make it one of only two “level 7” nuclear disasters in history (second only to Chernobyl). But just how much radioactive material had escaped was not clear. A tense time was made worse by sporadic disclosures of fragmented information. Those who had power or cell service, mostly friends and family outside the region, were glued to their television and smartphone screens, but, by definition, no one could see the radiation they feared. Frustrated by their own desires to know what should have been knowable, three technologists—Sean Bonner, Pieter Franken and Joi Ito—founded non-profit Safecast around a volunteer-centered, open, citizen-science, “crowdmapping” model to monitor radiation levels. With the help of thousands of volunteers, by 2018, Safecast had become not just the “go to” source of information on radiation issues in Japan and elsewhere, but also the vanguard example of citizen science. Yet as Safecast’s dataset strengthened exponentially, the sustainability of its financial model weakened. The same open, crowd-based model that made the founder’s data collection sustainable was still financially unsustainable. Was there a business model that could sustain the organization financially without undermining their volunteer-based operations, and if so, what would it look like?

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Tokyo Staff

Nobuo Sato
Executive Director
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Yukari Takizawa
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Naoko Jinjo
Senior Researcher