In this fiercely aggressive business world, the goal of most firms is to establish distinctive or unique capabilities to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace through utilising the most of their core competencies. Competencies refer to the fundamental knowledge owned by the firm (knowledge, know-how, experience, innovation and unique information), and to be distinctive they are not confined to functional domains but cut across the firm and its organisational boundaries (2002). Today, business enterprises in developed countries operate in a more complicated, and more regulated, environment. The strategic task, then, is to create a distinctive way ahead, using whatever core competencies and resources at its disposal, against the background and influence of the environment. Through these distinctive capabilities the organisation seeks sustainable competitive advantage. Competition in many domestic and international markets appears to be entering a new phase, in which product quality and performance are becoming more important to customers than price. In such markets, the effective management of the new product development process is the essence of competitive advantage. Due to such changes, a review of the organisations’ strategic capabilities is a must if they are to keep up with the demands of the changing times. This paper analyses the strategic capabilities of Toyota Company in face of the ever-stiffening competition in the automotive industry, as a potential tool to further strengthen Toyota’s position in the automobile market.
BRIEF TOYOTA BACKGROUND
Toyota Motor Corporation is a famous Japanese multinational corporation, and is considered the world’s second largest automaker of automobiles, trucks, buses, robots, and providing financial services ( 2007). Its founder is Kiichiro Toyoda, born in 1894, and the son of Sakichi Toyoda, who became popular as the inventor of the automatic loom. Kiichiro inherited the spirit of research and creation from his father, and devoted his entire life to the manufacture of cars. After many years of hard work, Kiichiro finally succeeded in his completion of the A1 prototype vehicle in 1935, which marked the beginning of the history of the Toyota Motor Corporation ( 2007).
The first Type A Engine produced in 1934 was used in the first Model A1 passenger car in May 1935 and the G1 truck in August 1935, and led to the production of the Model AA passenger car in 1936. In addition to being famous with its cars, it still participates in the textile business and makes automatic looms that are now fully computerised, and electric sewing machines that are available in different parts of the world. It has several factories around the world, which serve to manufacture and assemble vehicles for local markets. The corporation’s factories are located in countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, Poland, France, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Despite the many locations of its factories, its headquarters is located in Toyota, Aichi, Japan (2007).
It invests a great deal of time and effort in its research into cleaner-burning vehicles, such as promoting a Hybrid Synergy Drive and running a Hydrogen fuel cell in its vehicles (2007). It has significant market shares in developed countries, such as the United States, Europe, Africa and Australia, and has significant markets in South East Asian countries. Its brands include the Scion, its division in the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico, and the Lexus, which is Toyota’s luxury vehicle brand ( 2007).
Aside from producing cars and other types of automobiles, such as SUVs and coasters, Toyota also, participate in rallying or racing. The company’s presence in Motorsport can be traced to the early 1970s, when Ove...
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