Beyond the inflection point: how and why individuals promote inventions in Japan

  • Miikka J. LehtonenEmail author
  • Ainomaija Haarla
  • Masaaki Kotabe
Original Article


While Japan is one of the most innovative countries in the world, it has experienced a prolonged stagnant economic growth in the last 20 years. The development of new products and/or services has become critical for future economic growth. However, we know little about how individuals disseminate and legitimize inventions for new product and/or service development in Japan. This paper bridges this gap by looking at how and why material scientists, architects, and designers promote new inventions in Japan. We identified three novel roles (initiator, integrator, and interpreter) individuals take upon themselves to legitimize new uses for raw materials.


Invention diffusion Innovation dynamics Promoter roles Japan University–industry relations 



The authors would like to thank Petter B. Forsberg for the helpful comments in further clarifying the contributions of this manuscript as well as the two anonymous reviewers and the editors for helping crystallizing the core message.


The second author’s work was carried out under ‘Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose’, a research project funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Arts, Design and Architecture, School of BusinessAalto UniversityEspooFinland
  2. 2.School of Chemical EngineeringAalto UniversityEspooFinland
  3. 3.The Fox School of BusinessTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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