IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Technological advantage and market loss: Siemens and the X-ray machine business in Japan (1900-1960)


  • Pierre-Yves DONZÉ

    () (Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University)


This paper focuses on the involvement of Siemens on the market for radiology equipment in Japan between 1900 and 1960 from a business history perspective. It explores why the German multinational was unable to keep its dominant position on the Japanese market in the interwar years, despite its technological competitiveness. In particular, it examines the strategic choices made by the firm (export, licensing, direct investment) in relation to the changing economic and technological environment, highlighting the importance, for foreign multinationals, of working together with national trading firms involved in the distribution of drugs and products for doctors, as the Japanese medical market was already well structured when the country opened up to the West. Four phases have been identified. At first, before World War I, German manufacturers of X-ray machines, especially Siemens, enjoyed a virtual monopoly in Japan and favored an export strategy. The political and technological shifts that occurred during the war (interruption of trade with Germany, development of the Coolidge X-ray tube by General Electric) led to a more competitive market in Japan. Siemens reorganized its involvement in this business via a contract signed with a domestic medical goods trade company, Goto Fuundo (1926). Yet this proved insufficient to overcome the competition, and Siemens finally decided to relocate some of its production facilities for X-ray machines in Japan by entering into a joint venture with Goto (1932). Relations between Siemens and Goto were severed by the war, and Goto tried until the 1950s to go it alone in this field but failed due to a lack of organizational capability. As for Siemens, it reverted to its export strategy approach, re-entering the market in the 1950s.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-Yves DONZÉ, 2010. "Technological advantage and market loss: Siemens and the X-ray machine business in Japan (1900-1960)," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 10-17, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
  • Handle: RePEc:osk:wpaper:1017

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Meyer, Bruce D & Viscusi, W Kip & Durbin, David L, 1995. "Workers' Compensation and Injury Duration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 322-340, June.
    2. Mortensen, Dale & Pissarides, Christopher, 2011. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 1-19.
    3. Boone, Jan & van Ours, Jan C., 2006. "Are recessions good for workplace safety?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1069-1093, November.
    4. Per Engström & Bertil Holmlund, 2007. "Worker Absenteeism in Search Equilibrium," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(3), pages 439-467, September.
    5. Arai, Mahmood & Thoursie, Peter Skogman, 2005. "Incentives and selection in cyclical absenteeism," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 269-280, April.
    6. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    7. Krueger, Alan B., 1990. "Incentive effects of workers' compensation insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 73-99, February.
    8. Garibaldi, Pietro & Wasmer, Etienne, 2001. "Labor Market Flows and Equilibrium Search Unemployment," IZA Discussion Papers 406, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Scholz, John T & Gray, Wayne B, 1990. "OSHA Enforcement and Workplace Injuries: A Behavioral Approach to Risk Assessment," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 283-305, September.
    10. Barmby, Tim & Sessions, John G & Treble, John G, 1994. " Absenteeism, Efficiency Wages and Shirking," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(4), pages 561-566.
    11. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1985. "Workers' Compensation, Wages, and the Risk of Injury," NBER Working Papers 1538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Siemens; Goto Fuundo; X-ray machines; medical market;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • N85 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:osk:wpaper:1017. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Atsuko SUZUKI). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.