Viewpoint: “Is Japan still the leading Asian country for innovation?”

Source: Press release, dated 12.05.2010

By IMD Business School, dated: May 12, 2010

Prof. Bill Fischer:

Is Japan still the leading Asian country for innovation? Yes. Is China really the new emerging Asian innovation leader? No, not yet!

For one simple reason: Japan – the former, and still reigning, Asian innovative champion! […] Unlike their more globally established Japanese rivals, most Chinese “innovators” continue to focus on their domestic market (Baidu, DangDang, Alibaba, etc) and their present source of new ideas appears to be mostly the re-articulation of the ideas of others for the Chinese market (eBay, Amazon, etc.) For the few Chinese firms such as Haier or Huawei that have achieved global recognition, there are many more Japanese firms that exist already as global market leaders in a wide-range of industries. The rapid growth of fast retailing and the Japanese pharmaceutical industry’s increasing investment in California bio-tech firms are signals that Japan continues to search for ideas and brands wherever they might originate; successfully marrying the ideas of others with the manufacturing, logistical and brand power of Japan’s global industrial presence. China’s multinational-aspirants, on the other hand, run the risk of being overwhelmed by their “large market” and losing sight of what global business means in the process.

Prof. Jean-Pierre Lehmann:

No. […] The future (and in many ways current) Asian leader of innovation is India. The words of the title of Amartya Sen’s famous book, The Argumentative Indian, mean that the conditions for probing, challenging and hence creating are prevailing. India is not a nation, but a hodge-podge of cultures that in cross-fertilizing generate the incredible fountain of thought that India has been in many fields, including in science and mathematics. The internationalization of Indian research is reflected in many ways, including through the very intellectually rich and dynamic Indian diaspora. Japan is closed not only to foreigners, but also to Japanese who have resided abroad.

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