The Case Centre’s top 40 bestselling cases

Nineteenth place  - Komatsu Ltd
The case
Case: Komatsu Ltd Shouldice Hospital Ltd.
Authors: Christopher A. Bartlett and U. Srinivasa Rangan
Institution: Harvard Business School
Ref: 9-385-277
Date published: 1985

Komatsu’s arch-rival, Caterpillar Tractor Co. (CAT), announced continuing bad news in January 1985, with a full-year loss of $428 million. It was Cat’s third unprofitable year in a row. Although it looked as if Komatsu was closing in on its competitor, Chairman, Ryoichi Kawai, knew that CAT would fight hard to regain its preeminent position and realised it might be necessary to reassess his own competitive strategy. ‘One important lesson to be drawn from Cat’s decline is that success today does not necessarily imply success tomorrow,’ said Kawai. This case traces the strategy followed by Komatsu in developing its product technology, manufacturing capability, and marketing skills worldwide. 

The authors

Christopher A. Bartlett is the Thomas D. Casserly, Jr. Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School.

U. Srinivasa Rangan holds the Luksic Chair Professorship in Strategy and Global Studies at Babson College, Massachusetts, US.

Share this page:

Celebrating our first 40 years


We’re celebrating our 40th year as the only global, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the case method and sharing our world-leading expertise in case teaching, writing and learning.

We’d love hear from you as we roll out our programme of events to mark this special anniversary year. Share your experiences of case teaching or writing, or tell us about your first impressions if you’re new to the case method.

You can also join our growing international community on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, or enjoy the benefits of becoming one of our valued members.

Here’s to the next 40 years!