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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Information Storage Industry Center (ISIC) at the University of California, San Diego is a non-profit research program studying the rapidly-evolving and highly-competitive information storage industry. ISIC's research areas include product development, manufacturing, competitive dynamics, economics of organization, and storage system reliability and data integrity. Established in 1998 with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, ISIC is affiliated with UCSD's Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), one of world's top international graduate programs specializing in the Pacific Rim.

Cover page of Conspicuous Failures and Hidden Strengths of the ITRI Model: Taiwan's Technology Policy Toward Hard Disk Drives and CD-ROMs

Conspicuous Failures and Hidden Strengths of the ITRI Model: Taiwan's Technology Policy Toward Hard Disk Drives and CD-ROMs


A decade of stagnation and financial crisis have discredited the heavy-handed industrial policies of Japan and Korea, particularly preferential allocation of capital to large companies. In contrast, the remarkable growth of specialized yet flexible computer and semiconductor firms in Taiwan has been supported by a very different type of industrial policy. Taiwan's "ITRI model" combines development initiative and engineering support from the quasi-governmental Industrial Technology Research Institute with commercialization by a mass of small to medium-sized firms in the adjacent Hsinchu Science-Based Industrial Park. The government provides technological support for both long-term development and specific innovative products, but it has exercised extreme restraint in the allocation of capital and sponsored the development of a thriving venture capital industry.

Some industries, however, have proved resistant to the ITRI model. A prime example is hard disk drives. Hard disks combine high barriers to entry and brutally short product cycles. Moreover, they lack the stable architecture underlying notebook computers or monitors. Even with help from ITRI, Taiwan's small firms proved unable to keep up with the rapid development and growing economies of scale in hard disks. However, when they failed at disk drives, they proved capable, with additional assistance from ITRI, of moving quickly to related products with much lower barriers to entry, such as CD-ROMs and CD-R disks and drives.

Not withstanding the limitations revealed by the hard disk case, Taiwan's ITRI model is likely to attract increasing attention from developing countries that recognize the dangers of the Korean approach, yet hope to improve their standing in the international division of labor.

Cover page of The Dynamics of HDD Industry Development in Singapore

The Dynamics of HDD Industry Development in Singapore


Singapore accounted for 45-50% of the global shipment of HDD units during the 1986-96 period, making it the single most important location in the world for HDD assembly since the mid-1980s. The continuing concentration of the HDD industry in Singapore comes despite the significant increase in wage and land costs relative to her regional neighbours since the late 1980s. How has Singapore managed to attract and retain such a large share of this industry¹s manufacturing base? This study discusses the origins of the industry on the island, and how it subsequently grew and transformed. It examines the development of an internationally competitive local supplier base, the government¹s important influence on the evolution of the HDD industry in Singapore, and how these two groups helped to attract more technologically advanced HDD value chain activities to the island.

Cover page of Employment Patterns in the HDD Industry: Where are the Jobs?

Employment Patterns in the HDD Industry: Where are the Jobs?


A 3 year study of global employment patterns has been undertaken for three major sectors of the hard disc drive industry. The investigation shows the shift away from high cost centers to mainly Asian based low cost locations and the movement within Asia to find lower overheads or preferred centers of production.