Japan’s Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Initiative and the Politics of International Technology Collaboration

Discusses Japan’s Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) initiative, an international research program in manufacturing technology with the goal of developing a next-generation production system to maximize efficiency by integrating the entire range of business activity from order-booking through design, manufacture and distribution. Examines the role of techno-nationalism, foreign pressure, and scientific and technical factors in motivating Japan’s original IMS proposal. Examines the framework of the IMS program emerging from negotiations between Japan, the U.S. and the European Union. Examines the experience of Japanese and foreign firms in IMS. Evaluates IMS as a potential model for large-scale, industrial R&D collaboration. Argues that future interest in the model will be determined by whether it generates sufficient research results over the next ten years that firms can justify the overhead of organizing research collaboration on a global scale.