Cover of From Silicon Valley to Singapore by David G. McKendrick, Richard F. Doner, and Stephan Haggard
From Silicon Valley to Singapore
Location and Competitive Advantage in the Hard Disk Drive Industry
David G. McKendrick, Richard F. Doner, and Stephan Haggard


372 pages.
from $45.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804741521
Paperback ISBN: 9780804741835
Ebook ISBN: 9780804764612



Momentous developments in the global economy over the last two decades have dramatically increased the availability of industrial investment sites and lowered the cost of relocating core activities to new countries. But how should these developments be exploited for competitive advantage? Firms face competing pressures: scale economies and the advantages of proximity push them to concentrate activities in one or only a few locations, while low wages and new markets invite dispersal across several countries.

This book examines how location decisions have contributed to the global dominance of U.S. firms in the hard disk drive industry. In analyzing the industry since its beginnings some forty years ago, the book explains how American leadership in disk drives has rested on the formation of two complementary industrial clusters. Fundamental research and product development has been located almost entirely in the United States, principally California. Manufacturing has been concentrated in Southeast Asia (initially in Singapore and later in Thailand and Malaysia as well). This duality has proven key to the successful competitive position of the U.S. disk drive industry.

Beyond the particulars of the disk drive industry, the authors present new perspectives on the sources of industrial leadership, the strategic behavior of multinational corporations, the geographic evolution of industry, and the creation and endurance of industrial clusters. Managers will gain insight into how location decisions can contribute to organizational effectiveness, and will learn that globalizing production, while keeping innovative activities at home, can contribute to their firms’ competitive advantage. Policy makers will find that first mover advantages may be as important for countries as for companies, since early and systematic efforts to attract a specific industry can generate a critical mass of investments that, over time, will make a location resistant to inducements offered by other countries.

About the authors

David G. McKendrick is Research Director of the Information Storage Industry Center at the University of California, San Diego. Richard F. Doner is Associate Professor of Political Science at Emory University. Stephan Haggard is Professor of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

"A valuable resource for senior managers constantly seeking to improve their firms' competitive position."

—Dirk R. Thomas, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, IBM

"A thought-provoking examination of the factors that have influenced the disk-drive industry's global growth and evolution. The authors illustrate how indiustry leaders have used a variety of location strategies to gain a competitive edge."

—Steve Luczo, CEO, Seagate Technologies

"Offers rich new insights into the dynamics of one of Silicon Valley's least understood but most innovative sectors. Policy makers and business leaders will learn much about technology, geography, and globalization from this sophisticated analysis."

—AnnaLee Saxenian, author of Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128

"This volume reports the findings of an impressive research effort designed to identify the location strategies that have allowed US firms to maintain dominant positions within the international disk-drive industry. . . . This excellent book will be of interest to managers, policy makers, and academicians alike."


"An authoritative and comprehensive analysis . . . the breadth of research promises to make this the reference book for hard disk drives. . . . The case study itself will provide substantial fodder for debates on the globalization of high-technology manufacturing, development policy, firm strategy, and competitive advantage."

Enterprise and Society

"Suggestively medling an appreciation of organizational capabilities and local network effects with a deep understanding of national development policies, this book has implications far beyond the disk-drive industry. Its interdisciplinary perspective provides a fascinating framework for comprehending the dynamics of globalization during the last quarter of a century. The book amply demonstrates the rich potential of centers funded by the Sloan Foundation to foster distinctive cross-disciplinary research on industry."

Business History Review

"[The Editors'] research will force a rethinking of much of the contemporary thinking about globalisation."

Business History

"In contrast to the typical discipline-bound analyses that over-emphasise either economic or political actors, this book captures the subtlety of their interaction. I can think of few books that have done as well at elucidating this process."

Business History

"This book is meticulously researched, well written and theoretically sophisticated."

Business History

"This book is a stellar example of how conclusions drawn from institutional economics, geography, and political analysis can be synthesized to provide powerful insights into the behaviour of governments and firms. For those interested in the interaction of corporate functions across national boundaries or the organisation of value chains in high-technology industries, this book is must read."

Business History