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Vol. 65, No. 4, pp. 362-380 (2014)

“Problem-solving Activities in Product Development: Evidence from Engineer-level Surveys in Japan, Korea, and China”
Tsuyoshi Tsuru (Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University), Norio Tokumaru (Graduate School of Engineering, Nagoya Institute of Technology), Kentaro Nakajima (Graduate School of Economics, Tohoku University), Mitsuhiro Fukuzawa (Faculty of Economics, Seikei University)

Using unique engineer-level survey data conducted in Japan, Korea, and China, this paper empirically investigates problem-solving activities and their outcomes in the product development process. Specifically, we focus on the types of problems faced by engineers, the level of organizational hierarchy involved in solving problems, and the cooperative behavior of engineers. We obtained the following results. First, the level of organizational hierarchy for solving problems is lower in Japan and Korea than in China. Second, engineers cooperate more actively in solving problems outside their assigned jobs in Japan than in China or Korea. Finally, the level of organizational hierarchy for solving problems has no effect on performance in developing products, whereas an engineer's active cooperation outside her/his job has a significant and positive effect on such performance.