Chapter 9 Digital technology as a window of opportunity for leapfrogging: the display industry
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Chapter 9 examines the leapfrogging thesis using the case of catch-up in digital TV by Korean firms. Despite the disadvantages implied by the technological regime of digital TV and the risks facing early entrants in trajectory choice and initial market formation, Korean firms had achieved a “path-creating catch-up” in the sense they chose a different path from the Japanese forerunning firms. As they had been closely watching the technological trends and the standard-setting process, there was less risk of choosing the wrong technological trajectory. Also, despite the lack of sufficient capability and core knowledge base, Korean firms had some complementary assets, such as the experience of producing analogue TV, and were able to develop the prototype digital TV and the ASIC chips, given the access to the foreign knowledge via overseas R & D posts and the acquisition of a foreign company. To secure the initial market size, the Korean firms targeted the US market from the beginning, and their source for competitive advantages was the speedy setting up of the production system for mass production of products at the initial stage. The initial failure of the Japanese firms and the success of the Korean firms do suggest that the period of paradigm shift, like this toward digital technology, can serve as a window of opportunity for latecomers while penalizing the forerunner.

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