Stanford Events on Silicon Valley & Japan [レポート Report]

Stanford University Events on Silicon Valley & Japan/Asia (Feb. 2-3, 2016)

Day 1: February 2, 2016
Symposium “Silicon Valley and Asian Economies”
APARC Japan Program Symposium & NHK World Global Agenda
Time: February 2(T), 3:30-5:00pm
Venue: Bechtel Conference Center, Encina Hall, Stanford
Takeo HOSHI, Director, Japan Program, APARC, Stanford
William BARNETT, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Francis FUKUYAMA, Director, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford
Kenji KUSHIDA, Research Associate, Japan Program, APARC
(From left) T. Hoshi, K. Kushida, F. Fukuyama, and W. Barnett
Led by moderator Takeo Hoshi, the three panelists first presented some key words to describe the essence of Silicon Valley, that is, “Harness” for Kenji Kushida, “Social Capital” for Francis Fukuyama, and “Failure” for William Barnett.
Then they spent some time discussing how these key words could symbolize the success of Silicon Valley as the world’s center of innovation.
In this context, they critically examined Asian economies in general and Japan in particular in terms of business structure and government policy regarding innovation.
Some of the challenges that Silicon Valley is facing toward the future were also discussed.
Although all the four Stanford scholars naturally sounded positive and optimistic about the present and future of Silicon Valley, there seemed to be some difference of opinions among them in assessing the potential of Asian and other economies as “true” innovation centers.
While Kenji Kushida emphasizes the unique role that Silicon Valley so far has been and probably will be playing as the global center of innovation, William Barnett sounded more cautious about the future by referring to some of the innovative enterprises in Asia and Latin America.
The Q&A session was quite useful in clarifying the views of the panelists on innovation, creativity and culture.
(Takahiro Miyao)
Day 2: February 3, 2016
Seminar “Chronicles of the Silicon Valley-Japan Relationship and Lessons Learned”
Subtitle: An insider’s view of large firms, startup firms, and entrepreneurs since the 1970s
Time: February 3(W), 4:15-6:00pm
Venue: Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, Stanford
Masa ISHII, Managing Director of AZCA, Inc, Visiting Professor, Waseda Business School and Shizuoka University
Masa Ishii's presentation and the lively Q&A Session
After going through the recent history of Silicon Valley and its interaction with Japanese companies including his personal history as a bridge between the two difference business cultures, Masa Ishii explained why many of the Japanese large corporations have failed to take full advantage of the ecosystem of Silicon Valley.
He pointed out the "cronic issues facing Japanese companies in Silicon Valley", which include Japan's inward-looking attitude toward innovation, risk aversion, slow decision-making, etc.
His prescription for Japanese companies to benefit from innovative Silicon Valley culture turned out to be quite simple -- adopt top-down management decision-making system, which more and more Japanese companies are subscribing to, due to technological change and global competition.
In the Q&A session, some doubts concerning the real change in Japanese management culture were expressed, but Ishii replied rather optimistically by saying that emerging companies led by relatively young generation of Japanese managers are actually changing in a desirable direction.
However, the seminar ended with a somewhat pessimistic note both on the part of Masa Ishii and most of the audience in terms of Japan's ability to adapt to the IoT era by developing good networking software rather than sticking to its hardware "mono-zukuri" tradition.
(Takahiro Miyao)