Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Understanding the success of J-Form of Organizations and related organization learning

In the last blog, we began a discussion on the relation between organizational learning and organization structure. We continue this discussion today to better understand the J-Form of organizational structures.

In order to really understand the source for success of J-Form of Organizations in innovation and learning, it would be good to begin with the larger economy and drill deeper into an organization.

Japanese economy is generally characterized by high level of cooperation and organizational integration. There exists extensive long-term collaboration of firms in business groups and networks. The smaller firms are very well integrated with the larger firms.

The knowledge embedded in organizational routines, team relationships and shared culture are what form the basis of the innovative capacity of the J-Form organizations. The shop-floor skills in problem solving, intensive interaction and knowledge sharing across different functional units create an "organizational community" which drives Learning and Knowledge Creation. New Knowledge is formed the fusion, synthesis and combination of the existing knowledge base. 

The J-Form of organizations tends to develop an orientation towards incremental innovation as a strategy and generally perform well in relatively mature technology fields characterized by rich possibilities of combinations and incremental improvements to existing products or components. The focus is on nurturing organizationally embedded, tacit knowledge and it emphasizes continuous improvement in such knowledge. This approach however has been found to be not as effective when dealing with radically innovative platforms where the knowledge might have to gain knowledge from external sources. 

The success of Japanese firms in mature industries like - automobile, electronics etc and it’s not so good performance in areas like software and biotechnology are what we could related to.


  1. "There exists extensive long-term collaboration of firms in business groups and networks" in this case what happens to the competition sir.
    when there is a long term collaboration of firms the entry barriers would be high and the competition would be less thus the production units may not get the raw materials at a minimum cost due to lack of competition. Then how can the firms boost their economy.

  2. Dear srini,
    It is important to note that competition is an important factor to reduce the price - but when we are talking about the J-Form of organization, we are not limiting it to low cost alone.
    Through a system of collaboration for the long term - every one understands that it is in the growth of each other that they would be able to beat the "external" competition - In the case of Japan and the automotive industry it was the American Automotive giants like GM, Ford etc. The effectively work at improving the performance of the economy and not merely the firm. The believe that it is joint innovation and growth that they would be able to leverage for the better future.

    In addition, some of the blogs following this have detailed the way these firms operate and it would help you understand better.