Purpose – Foundry, Design House, and integrated device manufacturers (IDM) are major characters in the semiconductor industry value chain. The purpose of this paper is to discuss patterns of characters' evolution in technology through patents classified as wafer‐design application patents and wafer‐process patents. Design/methodology/approach – Various patent indicators, such as average patent citation count, and the combination of the average patent citation count and relative patent count share were used to measure the patent activity, patent quality, and the combination of the patent quality and relative patent activity share, respectively. The study period (1979‐2009) was divided into three major technology or wafer size eras, 1979‐1991 for the 6‐ and pre 6‐inch wafer era, 1989‐1999 for the 8‐inch wafer era, and 1997‐2009 for the 12‐inch wafer era. Findings – Foundry has gradually become the technology transferor rather than purely the manufacturing capacity provider. Foundry's impact on the technology level has risen steeply on both the wafer‐process technology fields and the wafer‐design application technology fields. As a result, IDM, traditionally considered the primary technology contributor in the semiconductor value chain for the past 30 years, will continue to be challenged in the semiconductor industry. Practical implications – Some hypotheses are clarified to provide managerial implications for the semiconductor industry. Owing to Foundry's rise in technology activity and quality, IDM/Design House should not merely view it as one of their capacity providers but should also pursue a technology alliance with it. Originality/value – The paper clarifies the traditional hypotheses of the characters of technology in the semiconductor value chain.
Industrial Management & Data Systems – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 22, 2011
Keywords: Semiconductors; Value chain; Patents; Supply chain management
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