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 In the first session of my Competitiveness course, we did ”Finland and Nokia” case. I have taught this case many times, but every time I read the case and lead the case discussion, I find something new. The case describes how Finland transformed itself from the “sleepy economy” to “one of the most competitive nations”, how the country has become a leading nation in the mobile telecommunications cluster and how Nokia has become the world leader in mobile handset. 
  This is a very complex, but interesting case, as it covers the competitiveness at different levels-nation, cluster, and the firm, as well as the Scandinavian region and how each affects others.  As such, it is quite tough case to do, particularly for the first session of the course.    

   Partly because we usually cannot cover all the issues in one class, we are scheduling the session in early May to compare and contrast Finland and  Japan today by inviting two guest speakers.  As the ”Finland and Nokia”case ends in 2001, we are interested in the status of Finland today and how we can compare/contrast Finland and Japan.  
  As I had a chance to address a group of politicians from Finland at the Embassy of Finland earlier, I am even more interested in the comparison.     

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    • Ben Matsuzaki
    • April 18th, 2008

    I read your article in “Keizai Kyoshitsu” on today’s paper. According to the article, one of the key factors of (potential) success is to become a “global niche player”. I do agree with you.

    I guess companies in Finland had no choice to be a so-so-good local player unlike many Japanese electronics companies, since the Finnish market was too small…

    It is, though, actually very challenging to be a global niche player. I’m in a middle of the struggle trying to be a “global niche” in Asia working with a number of my colleagues in China, India, Singapore, and Australia. In one word, we are optimizing the resources in the region. We built a plant in Ningbo, China, established an international purchasing office in Singapore and moving around people with specific skills in various locations in the region. The whole system is now better serving each market in Asia minimizing the losses.

    Well, it is easy to say this but in the middle of the transition process we paid quite a bit and are still facing tremendous amount of never-ending challenges. However, I would still say that diversification and globalization are good. The reason? It is fun!

    Ben

    • yishikura
    • April 19th, 2008

    Dear Ben, this is Yoko Ishikura. Thanks for your comment on gobal niche player and my Keizai Kyoshitsu article in Nikkei. Your comment is very valuable as it comes from those who are actually “doing” it. In theory, we can think of “global segmentation,” “potential of global niche” “managing the network of value chain activities in different parts of the world”, but the reality of doing it is so challenging and comes with a lot of headaches.

    I am thrilled that you are actually doing it and even more delighted as you find it fun! Thanks so much!

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