Kao employs a matrix management system that combines business units and functional units. The R&D Division is a functional unit that is divided into two sections, one devoted to product development research and the other to fundamental research. The product development section works through matrix management with business units. Exploiting the strength of this management, we work on new forms of product development and product improvement.
Meanwhile, the fundamental research section conducts scientific and technological research that can be utilized for a variety of products, as well as medium- and long-term research aimed at new business opportunities.
Matrix management is also pursued within the R&D Division between the product development and fundamental research sections. Close ties are maintained with production, quality assurance, and customer communication sections within the company. We also engage in joint research projects with various outside research institutes, universities, and companies. Through such collaboration, knowledge from many different fields can be dynamically shared, and this greatly accelerates our work.
One way in which our flexible operational structure expresses itself is through the use of a single large laboratory room style. Researchers with different types of expertise in diverse fields work together on the same floor, pursuing their research while engaging in constant conversation, exchange of information, and ideas. This open working environment promotes exchange of knowledge and expertise across fields, inspires new ideas, and encourages cooperation among researchers. This is what gives Kao’s R&D Division such tremendous potential.
Behind this operational system is an ongoing respect for the autonomy of the researchers, who conceive, plan, propose, and implement their own research projects in a free corporate culture.