Japan's Struggle To Regain The Tech Lead

from the worth-reading dept

When I was in college it was still popular to talk about how Japan had destroyed the American technology industry. I took at least 3 economics classes that compared how things were done in Japan (and Europe) vs the US – especially when it came to technology. These were some of the most interesting classes I took in school, though, most of what the professors said seemed not to hold when the US tech sector came roaring back in the mid to late 90s. They talked about how much the Japanese government’s guidance helped – as opposed to the willy nilly nature of American innovation. Hearing that now seems silly – but was very convincing at the time. Now Japan is looking to regain the lead (again thanks to their government guidance), and here’s a very interesting article that compares Japan and the US in how we’ve approached technology, and takes a few guess at what Japan’s chances are. He also points out that despite popular perception, much of the US’s success was actually helped along by the government (something, by the way, that this other article at Red Herring suggests is not true). Whether or not you agree with the conclusions, it’s an interesting read.

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Comments on “Japan's Struggle To Regain The Tech Lead”

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mgallagher says:

Part of a larger trend?

I remember the economics classes in the late 80’s talking about the superiority of the Japanese industrial coordination and planning model.

I had never really thought about it before, but I wonder if there isn’t a larger pattern at work here. If a sufficiently different technology comes along, countries like the US have a time limited advantage based in entreprenurial incentive and mobility of labor and resources. Then the Japanese coordination model gives them an advantage as the technologies mature and it is more important to perfect production processes than to invent.

Just a thought.

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