Ref: IMD-7-1903

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-1903

Order this case study

Nitto (A): Innovation for customers

Howard H. Yu

By Professor Howard H. YuHoward H. Yu and Tomoko Yokoi

Recognized as a Top 100 Global Innovator since 2010, Nitto Denko Corporation demonstrates how a relentless focus on customer innovation can sustain a company's growth, and transform its business model. This three-part case series examines how this Japan-based manufacturing group successfully rode the wave of emerging industries, found applications in new areas, while remaining true to its core technologies and capabilities. Case A recounts Nitto’s humble beginnings as a domestic electrical insulation manufacturer and how it turned into a global company poised to make inroads into the medical industry. Underlying its evolution is the company's particular philosophy of technology innovation and application (also known as Sanshin). Case B examines how Nitto sustains its innovation trajectory by investing in areas that enable rapid experimentation at large scale in the B2B setting. Case C discusses Nitto’s future roadmap. As Nitto aims to accelerate its global footprint and move into new markets, the company faces a “tipping point.” Nitto must find new ways to scale, diffuse and innovate at an accelerated pace. We examine the efforts of the regional European hub as an example of globalization, and how senior management charts its way into the medical and life sciences industry.

Learning Objective

This case invites students to reflect on the following topics surrounding innovation and corporate evolution:

  1. Understand the different processes behind disruptive innovation and sustaining innovation.
  2. Examine how to maximize the longevity of technological innovations.
  3. Address importance of core competencies and capabilities for leveraging existing technologies across new areas.
  4. Examine how product innovation and commercial innovation should go hand in hand.
  5. Reflect on how to embed corporate philosophies and values across a global organization.
Keywords Business Innovation, Customer Focus, Innovation, Services, Strategy, Technology
Settings Global, Japan
Nitto Denko Corporation
Type Field Research
Copyright ©2017
Language English
Order this case study

Reference: IMD-7-1903

IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre, UK Office

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Fax +44 (0)1234 751125
Email [email protected]

The Case Centre, US office

Babson College

Babson Park, Wellesley MA 02457, USA
Tel +1 781 239 5884
Fax +1 781 239 5885
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]

Copyright information

IMD retains all proprietary interests in its case studies and notes. Without prior written permission, IMD cases and notes may not be reproduced, used, translated, included in books or other publications, distributed in any form or by any means, stored in a database or in other retrieval systems. For additional copyright information related to case studies, please contact Case Services.


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-1903

Order this case study

Other case study in this series

Nitto (C): New century

Looking for something specific?

Keep reading