Innovation through Reinvention: Japan's Innovation Environment
Innovation through Reinvention: An Exploration of Japan's Innovation Environment [SR-716]
The story of innovation in Japan is in large part a story of reinvention. It is a story of ideas, products, and services being reinvented in the process of being adopted to fit unique cultural, social, consumer, and household patterns, in the end redefining the meaning and utility of these ideas, products, and services. Many in the West mistakenly view this as inability to be creative: the Japanese are simply unable to create new things and thus borrow from others and imitate, the thinking goes. Examples of such imitations or adaptations abound—Chinese script, Korean pottery and textiles, American corporate efficiency and popular culture, French education, and many others. But when one looks at what happens to all these adaptations, one quickly realizes that none of them are adopted outright but rather, are reinvented to fit the local context. In fact, the Japanese are engaged in an ongoing creative synthesis and reinvention, combining exotic with domestic, modern with traditional, Western with Japanese. Concepts, ideas, and practices are reinvented in their encounter with Japan, and then often are returned to Western and other Asian countries as innovations.