Offshoring of Engineering Labor in Japanese Manufacturing SMEs: Evolution of the “Comprehensive Offshoring” Model

  • Norio TokumaruEmail author
Part of the New Frontiers in Regional Science: Asian Perspectives book series (NFRSASIPER, volume 17)


While offshoring provides a significant opportunity for industrial development in emerging economies, it has been a quite controversial issue for developed economies mainly because of its impact on employment, especially of knowledge-intensive jobs. Although some data show the increase of the amount and extent of work that is relocated from Japan to emerging economies, little is known about the offshoring of high-value-added jobs including engineering labor. It is in this context that this chapter addresses two related questions by examining Japan’s die and mold industry: (1) To what extent do Japanese firms relocate jobs to emerging economies, and (2) why are Japanese firms engaging in offshoring more than ever? We argue that the offshoring practice has been evolved from partial offshoring to comprehensive offshoring and explore forces behind this evolution.


Comprehensive offshoring Engineering labor Vietnam 


  1. Ando M, Kimura F (2009) Fragmentation in East Asia: further evidence. ERIA Discussion Paper Series DP-2009-20Google Scholar
  2. Aoyama H (2011) Kanagata seisaku wo sasaeru CAD/CAM/CAE renkei gijutsu (CAD/CAM/CAE technologies supporting die and mold production). Seimitsu Kougakkai Shi (Precis Eng) 77(7):636–639 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  3. Arora A, Gambardella A (1994) The changing technology of technological change: general and abstract knowledge and the division of innovative labor. Res Policy 23(5):523–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baba T (2010) Betonamu kanagata sangyo no genjo to hatten dankai nit suite (The development stage of Vietnamese die and mold industries: from a field survey and statistics). Keizai Shirin 77(4):413–454 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  5. Bair J, Mahutga MC (2012) Varieties of offshoring?: Spatial fragmentation and the organization of production in twenty-first century capitalism. In: Morgan G, Whitley R (eds) Capitalisms and capitalism in the twenty-first century. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 271–297Google Scholar
  6. Blinder AS (2009) How many US jobs might be offshorable? World Economics 10(2):41–78Google Scholar
  7. Brown P, Lauder H, Ashton D (2011) The global auction: the broken promises of education, jobs and incomes. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Crinò R (2010) Service offshoring and white-collar employment. Rev Econ Stud 77(2):595–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Frobel J, Heinrichs J, Kreye O (1981) The new international division of labour. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Fujimoto T, Amano T, Shintaku J (2007) Akitekucha ni motoduku hikakuyui to kokusaibungyo (Comparative advantage based on product architectures and international division of labor). Soshiki Kagaku 40(4):51–64 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  11. Hall D, Soskice D (eds) (2001) Varieties of capitalism: the institutional foundations of comparative advantage. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Hattori T (2007) Higashi ajia keizai no hatten to nihon: kumitategata kogyoka to boueki kankei (Development of the East Asian economies and Japan: assembly-led industrialization and trade relations). University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  13. Hirakawa H, Lal K, Shinkai N, Tokumaru N (eds) (2013) Servitization, it-ization and innovation models: two-stage industrial cluster theory. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  14. Japan Bank for International Cooperation (2014) Wagakuni seizogyo kigyo no kaigaijigyotenkai ni kansuru tyosa hokoku (Survey report on overseas operation by Japanese manufacturing companies)Google Scholar
  15. Kenney M, Massini S, Murtha TP (2009) Offshoring administrative and technical work: new fields for understanding the global enterprise. J Int Bus Stud 40(6):887–900CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lewin AY, Massini S, Peeters C (2009) Why are companies offshoring innovation? The emerging global race for talent. J Int Bus Stud 40(6):901–925CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Manning S, Massini S, Lewin AY (2008) A dynamic perspective on next-generation offshoring: the global sourcing of science and engineering talent. Acad Manage Perspect 22(3):35–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Milberg W, Winkler D (2013) Outsourcing economics: global value chains in capitalist development. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Slepniov D, Larsen M, Waehrens BV, Pedersen T, Johansen J (2013) Offshoring white-collar work: an explorative investigation of the processes and mechanisms in two Danish manufacturing firms. In: Pedersen T, Bals L, Jensen PDØ, Larsen MM (eds) The offshoring challenge: strategic design and innovation for tomorrow’s organization. Springer, London, pp 123–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Taguchi N (2011) Sangyo gijutsu kyosoryoku to kanagata sangyo (Die and mold industry and technological and industrial competitiveness). Minerva Shobo, Kyoto (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  21. Tokumaru N (2005) Codification of technological knowledge, technological complexity and division of innovative labour: a case from the semiconductor industry in the 1990s. In: Finch JH, Orillard M (eds) Complexity and the economy: implication for economic policy. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 237–257Google Scholar
  22. Tomiura E (2014) Autososhingu no kokusaikeizaigaku (International economics of outsourcing: changing global trade and micro data analysis of Japanese firms). Nihon Hyoron Sha, Tokyo (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  23. Yin R (1994) Case study research: design and methods, 2nd edn. Sage, Newbury ParkGoogle Scholar
  24. Yoshitomi M (2003) Ajia keizai no shinjitsu (Truth of the Asian economies). Toyo Keizai Shinposha, Tokyo (in Japanese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nagoya Institute of TechnologyNagoyaJapan

Personalised recommendations