Utmost Gratification of Consumption by Means of Supra-Functionality Leads a Way to Overcoming Global Economic Stagnation

By Watanabe, Chihiro; Nasuno, Mitsuko et al. | Journal of Services Research, October 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Utmost Gratification of Consumption by Means of Supra-Functionality Leads a Way to Overcoming Global Economic Stagnation


Watanabe, Chihiro, Nasuno, Mitsuko, Shin, Jae-Ho, Journal of Services Research


(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

INTRODUCTION

Japan has constructed a sophisticated co-evolutionary dynamism between innovation and institutional systems by transforming external crisis into a springboard for new innovation (Watanabe and Zhao, 2006; Watanabe, 2009). This can largely be attributed to the unique features of the nation such as having a strong motivation to overcoming fear based on xenophobia and uncertainty avoidance (Hofstedo, 1991) as well as abundant curiosity, assimilation proficiency, and thoroughness in learning and absorption (OECD, 1997; Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2009). Such explicit dynamism was typically demonstrated by technology substitution for energy in the 1970s, leading Japan to achieve a high-technology miracle in the 1980s (Watanabe, 1992, 1996, 1999).

While Japan's explicit dynamism shifted to the opposite direction in the 1990s due to a systems conflict with the rise of the information society (OECD, 2001, Watanabe et al., 2004), it became reactivated in the early 2000s by a hybrid management of technology between indigenous strength and learning from global best practice (Fukuda and Watanabe, 2008a). Although reactivated firms have multi-polarized during the current period of global economic stagnation (Fukuda and Watanabe, 2008b), Japan's model for transforming a crisis into a springboard for new innovation has drawn global concern.

Given that the important lesson learned from the current globalwide stagnation is the termination of traditional consumption dependent economy that anticipated the recovery of consumption simply by business upturn, supra-functionality beyond economic value encompassing social, cultural, aspirational and emotional needs (Modigliani, 1965; McDonagh, 2008) could only reactivate world consumption.

McDonagh (2008) pointed out that in silver market (market initiated by aged people) consumers want to surround themselves with products that satisfy both functional and supra-functional needs. This group of consumers are more demanding than previous generations, expecting excellent usability and products that reflect their individual lifestyles. She postulated that if a product and/or technology does not resonate with the individual user, a psychological barrier can develop that will hinder the individual developing any relationship with that product resulting in its abandonment. She further postulated that even if the product offers the user significant support, unless the individual feels the product satisfies its supra-functional needs, the product will remain unused.

Japan's Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MPT: now reformed to Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication) in its survey on the customer friendly information and telecommunication services for the mentally challenged and elderly (MPT, 1999) proposed a similar view.

Furtheremore, similar postulate was demonstrated by Nasuno et al. (2003) by their intensive survey on the feasibility of parents of children with autism using an advanced treatment program. They have identified that while a group of disability like parents of children with autism incorporate stronger demand to supra-functionality than a group of normal ability, their resistance in accepting such functionality is stronger than that of the group of normal ability1. They suggested that since sensory and locomotive function is essential for satisfactory utilization of new innovation, a group of disability with such function is more sensitive to demand to supra-functionality than a group of normal ability.

In addition, Kondo et al. (2007) demonstrated that Japan's highfunctional mobile phone development from the late 1990s can be attributed to a dual spiral trajectory consisting of IT driven selfpropagating trajectory and institutional spiral trajectory as a consequence of intensive efforts for emerging from a disability of effective utilization of IT in the 1990s (OECD, 2001).

All these postulates suggest an interesting observation that while a group of consumers with certain disability are more demanding of new innovation than general consumers, they incorporate stronger resistance to it. …

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