“Hidden Champions” are little known mid-sized companies that dominate the world market in their chosen niche. Their revenue is below US$4 billion/¥300 billion, but many of them have global market shares of over 50 percent; some hold as much as 70 or 90 percent. They are the vanguard of globalization. Among the approximately 2,750 Hidden Champions worldwide, about 220 are located in Japan.
Regarding strategy, organization, and operations, the Japanese Hidden Champions resemble their Western peers. However, there are also some striking differences. For example, Western Hidden Champions can be found in almost all sectors, whereas 95% of their Japanese peers are industrial manufacturers.
Based on recent research, the talk will examine the success strategies of the Japanese Hidden Champions. How do they compare with their Western peers? Why do they outperform well-known large manufacturers, particularly in the electronics sector? How do they cope with the “Kaisha Dilemma” – balancing Japaneseness and global integration? What are the lessons for aspiring small and midsize companies, for large corporations, for investors, and for the country?
Dr. Stefan Lippert is a Professor in International Business at Temple University, Japan Campus, where he teaches corporate strategy and organization. He has held academic positions in Japan and abroad, including Hitotsubashi University, Tsukuba University, Nagoya University of Commerce and Business, Jinan University, and Harvard University. Dr. Lippert’s current research interests include the internationalization of Japanese and Asian firms, especially the “Hidden Champions”. In his consulting work, he advises Japanese and international companies primarily on strategy, organizational transformation and cross-border M&A. He was the Managing Partner Japan of Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy & marketing consultancy. Prior to that, Dr. Lippert worked with McKinsey& Company.