Job specifications were made broader rather than specific. The JIT manufacturing style ensured that employees were made more skilled. Workers learnt to use a variety of machines, operating under different flexible working conditions. From machine maintenance to inspections and other works during times of the slow demand in the industry, the workers learned more and their job growth accelerated (Pffer, 1994). The creation of the highly productive workforce was once again one of the reasons for the increased quality and decreased costs of the Japanese automobile makers. The quality work translated into good reputation in the case of the international sector. Toyota’s reputation spread more in international circles. The buffered stocks as created in the practice of mass production techniques, combined with the JIT philosophy with the small lot production resulted in improved quality (Kotabe, 1998). Workers did not have an abundant surplus of materials to work with and had to take care on ensuring that assembles or other work was carried out without mistakes. There was no necessity for rework and also a feedback system was present where problems and defects were corrected as soon as possible. The increased learning rate of the employees of the Japanese companies was both and invested effect and a side effect of the JIT. The Japanese employees continued to work with much more precision and skills. The main element associated with competitive advantage is consistency. Where consistency was possible the customers would trust the quality of a work better. On the other hand, the lack of consistency meant that the customer would not be able to rely on the work every time (Utterback, and Suarez, 1993). In the international real, consistency in quality was important and this was one reason that Japanese automakers have managed to retain their positon in the multinational market.
A multinational international market is one that has investment in other countries and as such needs to create and maintain a competitive position in the multinational market. The investments might be made in infrastructure or in distributions. The investments will help the company to manufacture and/or sell their products and services. A multinational company will not coordinate their product offerings. Instead the company would have products and services localized to the needs of the market in which the product offerings are made. Given this context a multinational firm will need to maintain its competitive advantage and at the same time cater to local needs. The essay argues that Japanese automobile manufacturers have been able to retain their competitive position as multinationals in international markets.
Process complexity reduction in favor of lean manufacturing practices was one of the very reasons behind competitive advantages. However the complexity reduction was also standardized to suit the domestic market of Japan. Some of the components that were considered to be wasteful were reduced and others that were considered to be complimentary across many designs were kept (Nonaka, 1991). Prepackaged options were kept and this was one reason that most times automobile manufacturers offered only the standard and the deluxe model for long. The prepackaged version makes it easier for the cost prices to be kept down. The small lot production which aided the Japanese automotive makers still aids in helping to bring down costs. However, the threat in current times is the expanding markets in the international realm. Some techniques like the Vertical “De-Integration” which helped Japanese automotive makers in the past would no longer be efficient to create low level subsidies as other companies would take lower level subsidizing to a more efficient level (Cusumano, 2013). This could be achieved by collaborating with networks across countries. Where subsidiaries accounted for more than 50 percent manufacturing, the very things that aided the Japanese companies could be a threat for them (Dyer, 1996a; 1996b).