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The two-day Expert Group Meeting on the Development of Competitive Strategies for Asian SMEs was held at the APO Secretariat in Tokyo on 15 and 16 April 2010. Emeritus Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi of Hitotsubashi University served as the chief expert.
The kickoff presentation by Professor Takeuchi on Competitive Strategy was given to an audience of 35 including consultants, researchers, and government officials as well as Japan Productivity Center and APO Secretariat staff. Professor Takeuchi emphasized that although “operational effectiveness,” which is doing things better, is necessary for a company to achieve superior profitability, “strategic positioning,” which is doing things differently than rivals, is even more crucial for a firm to achieve sustainable superior profitability, especially in an unattractive industry.
He continued, “If a company is in an unattractive industry, it is important to be unique. That is where competitive strategy plays a role. If a firm is in an attractive industry, there is less need for it to be unique. The industry structure will make profits, not the strategy.” Professor Takeuchi assured SME owners that there are advantages for them, stating, “Most SMEs are in an unattractive industry but SME owners have the ‘guts” and leadership’ to position themselves strategically to be unique in the industry.” Professor Takeuchi spoke on numerous other strategic insights including five-forces analysis especially for SMEs to gain competitiveness through strategy.
Professor Takeuchi will become a full-time professor at the Harvard Business School teaching courses on competitive strategy with Professor Michael Porter. His most recent position was the Dean of the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy, Hitotsubashi University, in Tokyo.