Proposal preview

History of International Business Relations (HIBR) in Technology, Patents, and Innovation

The most valuable analytical approach to understanding global economics today is to examine multinational enterprises (MNEs). MNEs expand business by increasing the movement of human resources, product and capital across national boundaries, resulting in closer economic ties between countries. On the other hand, when we analyze the influence and activities of MNEs that are propelling globalization, nationality is still significant. According to Geoffrey Jones, the strategies and organizational structures of MNEs still reflect the characteristics of their respective home economies. Observations of this kind emphasize national features in the development of businesses. From the end of the nineteenth century, the course of globalization led by business, has demonstrated both global and national features. It is imperative that we examine these two features delineating the evolution of business to understand globalization.
The history of MNEs is the principal academic field devoted to the study of the evolution of global business from a historical perspective. Many works focused on the significance of direct investments abroad, bringing to light the historicity of global economics today. However, questions such why nationality is important and what kinds of differences arise with nationality have still not been adequately dealt with. Doubtless a corporation that develops its business across national borders does so with the intent of strengthening its global character. But does this mean that a completely national company can take on a global persona simply by moving across borders? Prior to becoming globalized, could an enterprise be seen as one purely shaped by national forces?
Such a national enterprise has, in fact, already been informed and developed as a global entity prior to investing abroad. The field of the History of International Business Relations (HIBR), which was advocated in Japan, focuses on the international moments in a company’s development. It is not merely the study of MNEs, it is a discussion of how international business relations impacted management and left its mark on industrialization and management in specific countries. This discussion further highlights conflicts between national and global influences. It raises questions as to why global enterprises retain a diversity of national traits in behavior and performance, no matter how world-wide their activities, and why they cannot easily divest themselves of those national traits.
This session attempts to clarify how globalization has developed from the HIBR perspective. Especially this session focuses on the aspect of technology, patents, and innovation in the globalization process, and examines the role of international technology transfer, patent exchange and patent management, global interactions of research and development. Papers which deal, especially with electrical equipment, chemical, and manufacturing industries of US, Europe, and Asian countries will be organized. Papers on other industries and other countries can be included.

Organizer(s)

  • Shigehiro Nishimura Kansai University s_nishi@kansai-u.ac.jp Japan

Session members

  • Shigehiro Nishimura, Kansai University
  • Pierre-Yves Donzé, Osaka Universiy
  • Fredrik Tell, Uppsala University
  • David Andersson, Uppsala University
  • Matti La Mela, Aalto University
  • Gabriel Galvez-Behar, Université Lille 3
  • Yoko Tanaka, Harvard Yenching Institute / University of Tsukuba
  • Hiromichi Hasebe, Kyorin University
  • Gloria Sanz Lafuente, Universidad Pública de Navarra

Discussant(s)

  • Alessandro Nuvolari Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies alessandro.nuvolari@sssup.it

Papers

Panel abstract

The field of the History of International Business Relations (HIBR), which was advocated in Japan, focuses on the international aspects in a company’s development. It is not merely the study of MNEs, it is a discussion of how international business relations impacted management and left its mark on industrialization and management in specific countries. This discussion further highlights conflicts between national and global influences. It raises questions as to why global enterprises retain a diversity of national traits in behavior and performance, no matter how world-wide their activities, and why they cannot easily divest themselves of those national traits. This session attempts to clarify how globalization has developed from the HIBR perspective. Especially this session focuses on the aspect of technology, patents, and innovation in the globalization process, and examines the role of international technology transfer, patent exchange and patent management, global interactions of research and development.

1st half

Gatekeepers of New Technology: Patent agents in the Nordic area at the turn of the 20th century

David E. Andersson and Matti La Mela

This paper studies patent management in the Nordic area 1870-1910. It explores the activities of patent agents at a regional level and demonstrates the importance of the foreign operations for their businesses. The analysis is based on newly collected patent data from Sweden and Finland along with the patent agents used to file each patent. The paper shows that Swedish patent agents functioned as conduits for new technology in Finland by introducing inventors from other Nordic countries and Europe. Quantitatively Swedish patent agents were responsible for between 30-40% of foreign patents in Finland. Patent agents were not mere intermediaries for their foreign clients, but actively used the asymmetrical relations between the countries and the differing national institutional contexts. The paper suggests that in the case of a peripheral region, these limited and personal business networks had an impact on the diffusion of innovations and the scope of the innovation market.

This paper studies patent management in the Nordic area 1870-1910. It explores the activities of patent agents at a regional level and demonstrates the importance of the foreign operations for their businesses. The analysis is based on newly collected patent data from Sweden and Finland along with the patent agents used to file each patent. The paper shows that Swedish patent agents functioned as conduits for new technology in Finland by introducing inventors from other Nordic countries and Europe. Quantitatively Swedish patent agents were responsible for between 30-40% of foreign patents in Finland. Patent agents were not mere intermediaries for their foreign clients, but actively used the asymmetrical relations between the countries and the differing national institutional contexts. The paper suggests that in the case of a peripheral region, these limited and personal business networks had an impact on the diffusion of innovations and the scope of the innovation market.

Controlling IP at War: the US Alien Property Custodian and the German Patents during WWII

Gabriel Galvez-Behar

Wars constitute a very special context for intellectual property insofar as they lead to a redefinition of economic regulations. This paper intends to analyze the role of the Alien Property Custodian during the Second World War. With the beginning of the new conflict, the APC came into force again, whereas several aspects of intellectual property - and in particular the patent system - had been challenged since the 1930s. Nevertheless, the APC policy on intellectual property was then much more intense than in the previous conflict. It allowed the control or even the dispossession of German IP assets thanks to a well organized administration. We will describe the APC structure and we will analyze its role in the attempt to reframe the US patent system just after the war.

Wars constitute a very special context for intellectual property insofar as they lead to a redefinition of economic regulations. This paper intends to analyze the role of the Alien Property Custodian during the Second World War. With the beginning of the new conflict, the APC came into force again, whereas several aspects of intellectual property - and in particular the patent system - had been challenged since the 1930s. Nevertheless, the APC policy on intellectual property was then much more intense than in the previous conflict. It allowed the control or even the dispossession of German IP assets thanks to a well organized administration. We will describe the APC structure and we will analyze its role in the attempt to reframe the US patent system just after the war.

Patent Management and the Globalization of Firms: The case of Siemens (1890-1945)

Pierre-Yves Donzé and Shigehiro Nishimura

The objective of this paper is to shed light on the global patent strategy adopted by Siemens until World War II in an international comparison perspective. The electric appliance industry during this period was characterized by the domination of world markets by a few multinational enterprises. They built various organizational capabilities to enable their internationalization. Patent management was one of them. In particular, recent studies have emphasized that GE implemented after 1900 a strategy to transfer patent management to its foreign affiliates (Nishimura 2014). Yet, other companies such as Westinghouse followed a different path and controlled patenting abroad from headquarters (Nishimura 2015). Hence, the global patent strategy in this industry took various forms but there are still too few studies to be able to consider properly the impact of this strategy on firms’ competitiveness on global market. Consequently, this joint paper will focus on patent management by Siemens.

The objective of this paper is to shed light on the global patent strategy adopted by Siemens until World War II in an international comparison perspective. The electric appliance industry during this period was characterized by the domination of world markets by a few multinational enterprises. They built various organizational capabilities to enable their internationalization. Patent management was one of them. In particular, recent studies have emphasized that GE implemented after 1900 a strategy to transfer patent management to its foreign affiliates (Nishimura 2014). Yet, other companies such as Westinghouse followed a different path and controlled patenting abroad from headquarters (Nishimura 2015). Hence, the global patent strategy in this industry took various forms but there are still too few studies to be able to consider properly the impact of this strategy on firms’ competitiveness on global market. Consequently, this joint paper will focus on patent management by Siemens.

2nd half

Organizational capabilities in the heavy electrical manufacturing industry: a comparative study of European and American firms, 1878-1990

Fredrik Tell

This paper explores the formation and evolution of organizational capabilities in some heavy electrical manufacturers in Europe and North America between 1878 to 1990 to explain competitive outcomes and organizational survival. The presentation focuses on Westinghouse Electric Company and General Electric in the U.S., Siemens and Allgemenie Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG) in Germany, Brown Boveri (BBC) in Switzerland, Allmänna Svenska Elektricitetsaktiebolaget (ASEA) in Sweden, General Electric Corporation (GEC) in the U.K. and Alsthom in France. The analysis highlights that these firms were operating in a science-based industry where technological inventions drove not only production efficiency, but even more importantly product development and market development. The analytical framework presented cover management-based, technology-based, and market-based activities in the electrical manufacturing firms. The analysis shows how firms that coherently developed these activities outcompeted those firms that were less able to do so.

This paper explores the formation and evolution of organizational capabilities in some heavy electrical manufacturers in Europe and North America between 1878 to 1990 to explain competitive outcomes and organizational survival. The presentation focuses on Westinghouse Electric Company and General Electric in the U.S., Siemens and Allgemenie Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG) in Germany, Brown Boveri (BBC) in Switzerland, Allmänna Svenska Elektricitetsaktiebolaget (ASEA) in Sweden, General Electric Corporation (GEC) in the U.K. and Alsthom in France. The analysis highlights that these firms were operating in a science-based industry where technological inventions drove not only production efficiency, but even more importantly product development and market development. The analytical framework presented cover management-based, technology-based, and market-based activities in the electrical manufacturing firms. The analysis shows how firms that coherently developed these activities outcompeted those firms that were less able to do so.

German Design and Spanish manufacturing: The Trillo Nuclear Power Plant across national borders

Gloria Sanz Lafuente

The aim of my paper is to explain difficulties and solutions in a new industrial cooperation process analysing the impact in the across borders management as well as in the technology and patent transfers. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the USA remained the main Spanish foreign partner in the field of nuclear energy, although France and West Germany played also a significant role. Of all the nuclear reactors planned (over 40) and finally connected to the grid (8) in Spain, only four were not U.S. projects. German businesses projected two pressurized water reactors (PWR) with enriched uranium and a light water reactor (LWR). The construction of the nuclear power plant of Trillo meant an increasing movement of human resources, technologies and capital across national borders. The project of Trillo NPP became a point of arrival of the previous experiences and a new mutual learning process.

The aim of my paper is to explain difficulties and solutions in a new industrial cooperation process analysing the impact in the across borders management as well as in the technology and patent transfers. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the USA remained the main Spanish foreign partner in the field of nuclear energy, although France and West Germany played also a significant role. Of all the nuclear reactors planned (over 40) and finally connected to the grid (8) in Spain, only four were not U.S. projects. German businesses projected two pressurized water reactors (PWR) with enriched uranium and a light water reactor (LWR). The construction of the nuclear power plant of Trillo meant an increasing movement of human resources, technologies and capital across national borders. The project of Trillo NPP became a point of arrival of the previous experiences and a new mutual learning process.

Competitiveness and Technological Innovation in Manufacturing Industries in Germany and Japan from Historical Perspective

Yoko Tanaka

This paper examines the historical development of the global competitiveness in manufacturing industries in Germany and Japan with regard to the technological innovations. Based on the historical data on the development of the manufacturing industries and the export structure in both countries, the competitiveness with the particular technologies and patents would be analyzed for both countries, in the framework of the global manufacturing businesses and markets. Focusing particularly on the heavy industries like steel and iron, various kinds of machines, ships, electrical and electronic machinery and appliances, and automobile, the main economic engines for both countries would be explored in comparison with the United States. The historical changes of their structure of competitiveness in the heavy industries with particular technologies and innovations would show how and to what extent these two countries have kept their major roles in the world economy historically in comparison with other countries.

This paper examines the historical development of the global competitiveness in manufacturing industries in Germany and Japan with regard to the technological innovations. Based on the historical data on the development of the manufacturing industries and the export structure in both countries, the competitiveness with the particular technologies and patents would be analyzed for both countries, in the framework of the global manufacturing businesses and markets. Focusing particularly on the heavy industries like steel and iron, various kinds of machines, ships, electrical and electronic machinery and appliances, and automobile, the main economic engines for both countries would be explored in comparison with the United States. The historical changes of their structure of competitiveness in the heavy industries with particular technologies and innovations would show how and to what extent these two countries have kept their major roles in the world economy historically in comparison with other countries.

Sony's Contribution to the Dawn of Digital Music and the Unintended Consequences

Hiromichi Hasebe

This presentation explores what factor led to Sony’s technological development of digital formatting and how that effected Sony’s influence on the global music industry. Based on case studies from the ‘80s focusing on the early stages of digital audio technology: CD (Compact Disc) and DAT (Digital Audio Tape), the researcher concludes that major developments were not led by top management, as generally assumed. Recent studies suggest that the “unintended” aspects of Sony’s business structure and strategy caused their decline toward the end of the 1990s. These studies, however, do not recognize the influence Sony had as an innovator in the original development of digital music. The research question is, “What drove Sony to advance this technology that changed the industry?" The researcher will show key factors to both the intended and unintended results of Sony’s influential role as a music technology innovator.

This presentation explores what factor led to Sony’s technological development of digital formatting and how that effected Sony’s influence on the global music industry. Based on case studies from the ‘80s focusing on the early stages of digital audio technology: CD (Compact Disc) and DAT (Digital Audio Tape), the researcher concludes that major developments were not led by top management, as generally assumed. Recent studies suggest that the “unintended” aspects of Sony’s business structure and strategy caused their decline toward the end of the 1990s. These studies, however, do not recognize the influence Sony had as an innovator in the original development of digital music. The research question is, “What drove Sony to advance this technology that changed the industry?" The researcher will show key factors to both the intended and unintended results of Sony’s influential role as a music technology innovator.