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  • Competition, Knowledge Spillover, and Innovation:

    Technological Development of Semiconductor Lasers, 1960-

    1990

    Hiroshi Shimizu

  • 2

    Acknowledgements In 1997, I began my graduate study at Hitotsubashi University. In 2001, I attended Northwestern University, and three years later, I transferred to the London School of Economics. This Ph.D. thesis is the result of my studies at these distinguished universities. I would like to express my gratitude to all who enabled me to complete this thesis.

    I am extremely grateful to my supervisors, Professor Janet Hunter and Dr. Tom Nicholas, whose help, stimulating suggestions, and encouragement helped me throughout the research and writing of this thesis. Professor Hunter was always supportive and constrictive. Her understanding, encouragement, and guidance have provided an important basis for the present thesis. Since Dr. Nicholas left the London School of Economics and moved to Harvard Business School in 2005, I lost an important mentor. However, he always read drafts and provided constructive comments.

    At Hitotsubashi University, I became interested in Innovation and Knowledge Creation, which are the key issues of my thesis. I would like to express my warmest and sincere thanks to Professor Seiichiro Yonekura. He gave me the opportunity to visit Boston and meet the late Alfred Chandler Jr. in the summer of 1997. Without this visit and his guidance, I would have not decided to study abroad. His concept-creating orientation, inspiring work, and fanatical inclination to tennis and personal friendship encouraged me and changed my career. Professor Yoshitaka Suzuki recommended LSE for me. I warmly thank him for his valuable advice and help. I would like to thank Professor Tsuyoshi Numagami and Dr Toshihiko Kato as well. Professor Numagami’s classes and work are always in my mind. His ideals and concepts have had a remarkable influence on my entire graduate studies. Since Dr Kato was visiting City University from 2004 to 2005, I was able to consult with him several times in London. His encouragement and insightful comments on my thesis were valuable. I would like to thank Professors, Ikujiro Nonaka, Hiroyuki Itami, and Akira Takeishi who were on the faculty of Hitotsubashi University. I would also like to thank the graduate students while I was at Hitotsubashi: Minoru Shimamoto, Kazuhisa Kawai, Kenji Inayama, Daiji Fujii, Kunio Miyazaki, and Takashi Hirao. The continuous conversations with many Hitotsubashi scholars has kept my mind turning and my reading list very long. At Northwestern University, Professor Laura Hein and Dr. Peter Murmann gave me tremendous support. Professor Joel Mokyr gave me advice when I planned to transfer to LSE.

    In the course of this Ph.D. thesis, I have incurred an enormous debt to LSE. I especially loved the seminars at LSE; they always provided insightful discussions. I would like to thank the following faculty members for giving me these great opportunities: the late Professor Stephan Larry Epstein, Dr Gareth Austin, Dr Kent Deng, Dr Gerben Bakker, Dr Peter Howlett, Dr Tim Leunig, Dr Colin Lewis, Dr Debin Ma, Dr Chris Minns, Dr Mary Morgan, Dr Max Stephan Schulze and Dr Patrick Wallis. I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Terry Gourvish for accepting the post of official examiner. I also want to thank my friends Carlos Brando, Xavier

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    Duran, Calros Stantiago-Caballero, and Ashishi Velkaer for giving constructive comments and welcome support. I would like to thank Makoto Kasuya, who was a visiting scholar at LSE from the University of Tokyo, for his constructive and insightful comments on my research. I would like to thank the late Jurō Hashimoto. At a social gathering after an academic conference, he inspired me with kind words. His written scholarship and words of encouragement have been an endless source of support. And I would like to thank all corporate managers, engineers, and government officials who kindly took time for my interviews. I was impressed to witness their passion and excitement for their expertise in the development of laser technology.

    On a more personal level, I want to thank my parents, Akira and Kyoko. Without their support, I could have not finished this thesis. Yet none is greater than the one I owe to Yasuko Shimizu, my wife. Her encouragement and assistance never wavered.

    Hiroshi Shimizu

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    Abstract Knowledge plays an important role in economic growth. The role of

    technological knowledge significantly increased after the Industrial Revolution. Firms internalised technological knowledge in their R&D laboratories and placed knowledge creation in a central position in their business strategies. Both the stock and flow of technological knowledge and the tight interaction among science and engineering became indispensable to the competitive advantage of industry, as well as modern economic growth. Directing its attention to knowledge creation and spillover, this thesis scrutinises the development of semiconductor lasers from 1960 to 1990. The semiconductor laser became one of the most important developments in the optoelectronics industry underlying the drastic changes that took place during the last half of the twentieth century in information technology, and it has become the most widely used laser since the 1980s.

    Reviewing the optoelectronics industry in the U.S. and Japan, the Japan Technology Evaluation Center (JTEC) found that “Japan clearly led in consumer optoelectronics, that both countries were competitive in communications and networks, and that the United States held a clear lead in custom optoelectronics.” “Japan’s lead in high-volume consumer optoelectronics and related technologies gave it a dominant share of the overall global optoelectronics market.” This thesis explores how the patterns of comparative advantages emerged, which were indicated by the JTEC report. How did Japanese firms gain technological competitiveness in high volume product markets? How did the U.S. firms come to be competitive in niche markets?

    Through scrutinizing patent data, it examines the engineers’ network, mobility, and the pattern of technological choice in R&D competition. Introducing the two different types of knowledge--current technological domain specific knowledge and lateral utilization knowledge--it showed how different patterns of knowledge spillover emerged and resulted in the different paths of technological development in the U.S. and Japan. Based on the high star-engineers’ mobility and the well developed research network, the U.S. firms tended to spin off from their parent firms and targeted niche markets. Therefore, knowledge spillover emerged in the areas where semiconductor laser technology was applied and exploited to fill untapped markets. In contrast, the pattern of competition of Japanese firms induced knowledge spillovers to enhance the development of core semiconductor laser technology instead of exploiting niche product markets.

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    Table of Contents

    1. Introduction .......................................................................................................9 1.1. Knowledge, Knowledge Spillover and Technological Change ......................11 1.2. Semiconductor Laser ......................................................................................25 1.3. Epitaxy Technology ........................................................................................38 1.4. Approach and Contribution.............................................................................42

    2. Literature Review: Technological Development in Post-war Japan ...............65

    2.1. Economic Growth and Two Exogenous Shocks.............................................66 2.2. Four Perspectives on Technological Change and Economic Growth.............72 2.3. Previous Studies and Research Questions ......................................................90

    3. Human Capital and Research Networks .........................................................93

    3.1. The Beginning of Semiconductor Laser Research .........................................95 3.2. Accumulation of Human Capital ..................................................................101 3.3 Collaborative Research and Networks...........................................................106 3.4. Conclusion ....................................................................................................117

    4. Semiconductor Laser Research Consortium: the OMCS Project .................119

    4.1 Previous Research and Approach ..................................................................121 4.2 Optoelectronics Measurement and Control System Project ..........................126 4.3. Underinvestment of the Participating Firms.................................................135 4.4. Competition Enhancement Effect .................................................................142 4.5. Conclusion ....................................................................................................148

    5. Competition, Knowledge Spillover, and Innovation.....................................151

    5.1. Invention of the Semiconductor Laser and LPE...........................................153 5.2. New Market and Technological Change.......................................................159 5.3. Economic Context and Vertical Integration..................................................173 5.4. Competition and Knowledge Spillover .................................

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