National Innovation Ecosystems: The Similarity and Disparity of Japan-Us Technology Policy Systems toward a Service Oriented Economy

By Watanabe, Chihiro; Fukuda, Kayano | Journal of Services Research, April 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

National Innovation Ecosystems: The Similarity and Disparity of Japan-Us Technology Policy Systems toward a Service Oriented Economy


Watanabe, Chihiro, Fukuda, Kayano, Journal of Services Research


(ProQuest-CSA LLC: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

INTRODUCTION

Coinciding with the announcement of the National Innovation Ecosystem proposed by the US Council on Competitiveness, Japan's Industrial Structure Council proposed a significant shift from a technology policy to an innovation policy based on the ecosystem concept.

Aiming at analyzing and evaluating the complex mutual relations between human activities centered around industry and the surrounding environment, Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI)1 postulated the concept of Industrial Ecology in the early 1970s (Watanabe, 1972; 1994). Similarly in the US in the early 1990s there was an initiative by the National Academy of Engineering (Erkman, 1997).

The basic principle of Industrial Ecology suggests substitution among available production factors in a closed system in order to achieve sustainable development under certain constraints. Based on this concept, Japan achieved notable energy efficient improvement in the 1980s that can be attributed to technology substitution for energy (Watanabe, 1995, 1999).

Contrary to its economic stagnation in the 1980s, the US achieved significant economic development in the 1990s while Japan experienced a "lost decade" due to economic stagnation. The US success can be attributed to information technology (IT) substitution for traditional manufacturing technology, leading to new functionality development corresponding to a requirement of the shift from manufacturing technology based growth oriented trajectory to IT driven new functionality development initiated trajectory in an information society that emerged in the beginning of the 1990s.

Both the US and Japan demonstrated contrasting success through mutual inspiration during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s including the postulation of the concept of Industrial Ecology in the early 1970s and 1990s, respectively. However, given a new paradigm in a post-information age toward a ubiquitous society in the early 2000s that requires a shift from function oriented to solution oriented trajectory corresponding to seamless, all actors participation and on demand institutions, which is quite similar to an evolutional ecosystem, they need a new approach based on the coevolutionary dynamism to sustaining their national innovation.

Marten (2001) stressed that co-existence, co-adaptation and co-evolution are emergent properties of an ecosystem. He defines that co-existence and co-adaptation are existing together and fitting together, respectively, while co-evolution is changing together. According to Marten, while co-existence and co-adaptation are built into the game, they are not as dynamic as is typical for sustainable ecosystem. Co-evolution plays an essential role in sustaining an ecosystem in an evolutionary way. Thus, in order to correspond to a ubiquitous society, which is quite similar to an evolutional ecosystem, co-evolution, changing together is essential for national innovation.

Marten (2001) further identified the significant role of co-evolution in complex circumstances by comparing an ecosystem and TV sets. Both systems are similar in incorporating a selection of parts that function together. A TV has a large number of electronic components, each precisely suited to the other components in the set. There are, however, some important differences between an ecosystem and TV sets. An ecosystem has a higher level of redundancy than TV sets, and this gives it greater reliability and resilience. Because TV sets are designed to be constructed as economically as possible, there is only one component for every function. Each important function in an ecosystem is normally performed by several different species. An ecosystem and TV sets are different in another important way. The biological components of themselves incorporate complex adaptive systems with the ability to change as circumstance demands. In contrast to TV sets, an ecosystem, depending upon what is happening at a particular time, plants and animals can change the way in which they interact with other species. …

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