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Home > Tech Reiews > Japan Technology Review Last Updated: 15:24 03/09/2007
Japan Technology Review #21: October 29, 2001

An OECD conference titled "Managing the University-Industry Relations: The Role of Knowledge Management" - Part 1-

By Hajime Yamada (GLOCOM)

On October 15th and 16th, an international conference entitled "Managing the University-Industry Relations: The Role of Knowledge Management" was jointly held by the Organization of Economic Cooperation Development (OECD), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Ministry of Economy, Technology and Industry (METI). The Engineering Academy of Japan (EAJ) cooperated with this conference as one of the co-sponsors.

A forum with a limited number of participants was held on the first day, and the conference on the second day was attended by a large audience of more than 300 executive representatives from various industries. The conference title was ‘Leadership in the Knowledge Management'. I will mainly report on the second day in this review.

The opening remarks of the conference were made by Jarl Bengtsson of OECD and Risaburo Nezu of Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI). Bengtsson introduced how they were dealing with knowledge management at OECD, and pointed out the following three aspects as successful results of the first day forum: First, those who participated in the forum had meaningful exchanges of experience and information with other specialists. Second, an agreement was made to aim for closer cooperative relationships between industry and academy Finally, confirmation was made that creation of a value system for combining tacit knowledge with explicit knowledge was necessary. Nezu stated that an era of Science and Technology as sources of growth had arrived. He also indicated that unemployment rates tended to have increased in such countries as Japan, France and Germany, where ties between science and industry were weak, or where science was not much valued, and appealed for stronger fortification of industry-academia cooperation.

Professor Ikujiro Nonaka, Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy, made a keynote speech. Nonaka pointed out that we should not choose either globalization or localization, or economy of scale or economy of speed. Rather, we should choose both at the same time. His recognition is that an era has arrived when integration of various strategies is more important than optimization by selection. Moreover, he stresses the importance of a long-term perspective in promoting active use and creation of knowledge.

Three panel discussions were held in this conference.

The first panel was titled "Knowledge Management and Industry-Academia Cooperation". Larry Prusak of IBM suggested some measures to promote mutual understandings between R&D managers and business management, which still differed in their ways of thinking, including IBM. Prusak's suggestion to build a team consisting of both parties in order to swiftly solve practical problems was quite interesting. Yotaro Kobayashi, Chairman of KEIZAI DOYUKAI (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), stressed the importance of Japanese corporations' change of attitude towards wider and more open businesses, because encounters with other organizations would lead to knowledge creation. Yasuharu Suematsu, Director of the National Institute of Informatics, explained that Japan has a long tradition of industry-academia cooperation and has made achievements, even though they have been invisible and non-contracting ones. From now, it is important to change them into visible ones. Toichi Sakata, MEXT, introduced recent movements of fortification of industry-academia cooperation and university reforms promoted by MEXT.

Hiroaki Shigeta of Nippon Roche asked a question from the floor regarding how universities evaluated research achievements. Suematsu answered that they relied mainly on evaluations by academic societies but did not cover enough evaluations from industry. Sakata argued that new employment systems of professors, such as inviting open applications and contracting by terms, should be promoted. Sogo Okamura of International University of Japan pointed out that Japanese definitions of Science and Engineering are different from those in other countries, and therefore Nezu's suggestion that there were too few Doctors in Science in Japan needed to be reconsidered.

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