Hitotsubashi Business Review | Papers
Hitotsubashi Business Review

Using open innovation to leverage Japan’s strengths [Open Innovation de Nihon no tsuyomi o ikasu]

Japan’s challenges are well-known. The so-called “Lost Decade”, demographic imbalances and the rise of new competitors have lead many to write-off Japan. The triple disasters of 3/11 merely served to extenuate many people’s negative predictions for Japan’s future. This article will argue that—while Japan’s challenges are real and severe—such gloom is not necessarily warranted. In doing so, it will build on existing arguments that Japan must become more entrepreneurial. However, it will deviate from the common narrative by stressing that some of the very institutional and business factors blamed for Japan’s current difficulties can, in fact, be become sources of competitive advantage for Japan and Japanese companies if transformed by a shift to more open innovation. It does so in several steps. First, it briefly review several key challenges facing Japan. Second, it suggests that potential strengths are hidden among these challenges. Third, it suggests how open innovation can help leverage these strengths. I close by offering an example of how this might come about—the clean energy industry in the post 3/11 world.

Originally published in Japanese. English translation included. View and download