Finding the 'boundary mediators': Network analysis of the joint R&D project between Toyota and Panasonic

Masaharu Tsujimoto, Yoichi Matsumoto, Kiyonori Sakakibara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, a large and growing number of companies have attempted to develop core technologies for their products by conducting joint research with a company in a different industry. However, the mechanisms by which technologies are acquired and assimilated through cross-industry research remains unclear. In response to this ambiguity, we developed a theoretical framework for this mechanism, proposed hypotheses, and empirically examined data from a joint research project conducted by Toyota Motor Corporation and Panasonic Corporation to develop the nickel-hydrogen storage cell. Specifically, we analysed networks of inventors who filed patent applications through the joint research. The results indicate that there are 'boundary mediators' who facilitated the exchange of technologies between the two companies. On the basis of their wide range of technical knowledge, we found there to be two types of boundary mediators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-133
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Technology Management
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Boundary mediator
  • Boundary spanner
  • Gate keeper
  • Open innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management
  • Law


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