Can Japan’s hidden champions spearhead an economic revival?

Hamamatsu Photonics plant in Iwata, Japan: engineer Hiroyuki Kyushima (R) was involved in the creation of a particle detector that enabled a Japanese physicist to become one of the winners of the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics (source: dpa)
Hamamatsu Photonics plant in Iwata, Japan: engineer Hiroyuki Kyushima (R) was involved in the creation of a particle detector that enabled a Japanese physicist to become one of the winners of the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics (source: dpa)

Hidden champions are firms that have annual sales below US$5 billion and are not widely known, but which are among the top three globally in market share for their products. Such companies are esteemed by their customer base and competitors for high quality and innovation.

The phenomenon of hidden champions was first studied by management scholar Hermann Simon in the 1990s. He found that, unlike corporate superstars such as Apple or Google, which are as unique as Mozart or Einstein, hidden champions are essentially ordinary companies that have achieved top positions through superior strategies and organisations. As such, these firms can provide lessons for both mid-size and large comp...

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