players. While the specific structures for innovation naturally differ among industrial nations, such trends may lead to a Stronger level of functional equivalence among the structures. In this way, increased similarity of the problems addressed by corporate innovation in the two countries tends to increase the similarity of corporate innovation approaches, but does not necessarily imply that the approaches will become the same. These members emphasize trends and examples of recent years, such as the outstanding U.S. companies that have adapted aspects of Japanese innovation strategy, and recent policy changes in Japan aimed at building a stronger publicly funded research base, as indicating that problem convergence is leading to a degree of convergence in corporate and even government approaches based on a new model of innovation.
On the other hand, several of the U.S. members point to evidence of continued disparity in the innovation strategies of U.S. and Japanese companies, based on their policy environments, past organizational experience and accumulated capabilities. These differences include the relatively larger role of defense-related R&D in the U.S. system, greater exclusivity and long-term obligation built into Japanese OEM-supplier relationships and human resource development practices, and differences in financial environments. While not denying the possibility that significant U.S.-Japan convergence in corporate innovation approaches will occur in the future, these U.S. members believe that the trend is not yet clear enough to draw policy conclusions, and also raise the possibility that important aspects of Japanese and U.S. innovation approaches will not converge.
Although the Joint Task Force agrees on the significance and fundamental nature of trends in corporate innovation approaches in Japan and the United States, the rapid pace of change and paucity of information in several important areas make it inherently difficult to specify action items. The Joint Task Force therefore decided to develop focused suggestions for future work for scholars, policymakers and companies. The recommendations section identifies several key questions and challenges, including the need for international efforts to improve the quality and quantity of data on trends in global innovation, the need to continue efforts to develop models of innovation that reflect real world trends, and the need for the U.S. and Japanese governments and multilateral agencies to begin addressing the policy issues emerging from shifts in innovation practices and patterns.
The Joint Task Force believes that there is an emerging, pressing need for more and better data on many aspects of innovation, including government policies and programs, corporate activities and international linkages. One of the key questions that an effort at improved data collection could be aimed at addressing is whether corporate or national approaches to innovation are in fact converging as business activity and innovative capability become more global. Such an effort would ideally be international in scope, and might involve multilateral bodies such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and