External integration of information in the development of selected core high technologies: A comparison in the United States and Japan

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration


Theodore O. Wallin


manufacturing, japan, united states, diagnostic imaging

Subject Categories

Business Administration, Management, and Operations


This dissertation explores the patterns of external integration across the product development process by developing a framework for studying and setting forth a grounded theory of external integration. The domain of the in-depth case studies is the high technology sector of the medical diagnostic imaging industry.

The study consists of four in-depth cases studies covering two manufacturing sites in the U.S. and two sites in Japan. The firms that participated in the study are representative of global players in the industry. In depth interviews were conducted with several managers from a multitude of functions including those from marketing, R&D, and engineering, purchasing, supply, inventory, purchasing and other functional areas from each site. An informational system framework was developed and applied to the data. The data was analyzed using Atlas/ti computer aided text interpretation and theory building software.

The focus of the study involves internal integration from a perspective that views it as a complete informational system for the exchange and creation of information across the product development process. The framework and perspective provides the conceptual foundation to the dissertation and serves as the bases for theory development.

The key findings of the study, including causal relations revealed through insights of managers in the industry are: (1) external integration is key in organizing for long term competitiveness, (2) firms can manage external integration across all stages of product development, (3) there are many patterns of external integration, (4) close contact with customers is critical, (5) close relationships with suppliers can lead to a competitive advantage, (6) electronic communication and informational systems are the trend for the future, (7) external integration in the early stages of product development can lead to greater success and (8) the patterns of external integration are dynamic, changing in context to the environment and maturity of the industry.

Several directions for future research the following insights are provided. For example, the empirical testing of the theory across industries and nations is necessary to further validate the theory of external integration and broaden the generalizations of the study to other industries. Subsequent research is needed to clearly identify the patterns of external integration that are most successful in different environments.


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