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It is often claimed that Japanese are mostly doing incremental innovation as opposed to disruptive innovation.

http://www.economist.com/debate/overview/199

http://www.asiancenturyinstitute.com/economy/167-asia-s-innovation-cities

This is why innovation in Asia rarely involves disruptive, major breakthroughs, and tends to be "incremental innovation" which adapts and perfects innovations coming from elsewhere.

How true is this claim, and does that mean Japan is less technologically innovative than the U.S.?

  • Well, if they do incremental innovation than we can safely say that they are less "innovative" than the U.S. I told you that it was a notable claim, why did you close my other thread? – Wen Li Aug 3 '13 at 0:51
  • If you want to talk about the other thread, you can ask a question on Skeptics Meta, or in Skeptics Chat. – user5582 Aug 3 '13 at 1:07
  • Only the first part of your question is on topic. The second, about what it means, is not. (Sorry, deleted this comment accidentally.) – user5582 Aug 3 '13 at 1:08
  • "Innovation" is not clearly defined; unless the original claimant gave explicit definitions, it could be defined in many ways which could be used to promote any country and/or bias. I originally didn't bother to put this question on hold because @Sancho found what appeared to be a good definition, but given it is not being accepted by the OP, I felt the need to put this question on hold until an acceptable definition is found. This is to prevent other people wasting their time on answers based on definitions the OP will reject. – Oddthinking Aug 7 '13 at 15:09
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INSEAD publishes the Global Innovation Index.

From the average rankings:

5 United States of America 60.3
22 Japan 52.2

Ranked by "Innovation output", the result is:

12  United States of America 51.4
33  Japan 41.6

Ranked by "Knowledge impact", the result is:

11  United States of America 54.1   
61  Japan 35.8
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    China is ranked first in knowledge impact. I think that shows how meaningless that data is. – Wen Li Aug 3 '13 at 18:23
  • Innovation output includes scientific articles. – Wen Li Aug 3 '13 at 18:24
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    If you're going to reject evidence that doesn't suit your preconceptions, you might have a bad time on Skeptics. – Bradd Szonye Aug 3 '13 at 22:37
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    @BraddSzonye, Wen Li is right, that "evidence" is garbage. I'm reading it now and Malta is now listed as first in knowledge impact. It's laughably bad data analysis. Also, it is well known that China games these index systems by cranking out mountains of low quality papers. – travisbartley Aug 5 '13 at 2:17
  • Looking at the sub-categories of “knowledge impact,” it appears to address the importance of knowledge within a nation; influence on other nations is “knowledge diffusion.” It seems entirely reasonable for a small nation like Malta to have a high knowledge impact but lower knowledge diffusion (which is exactly what you do see in the report). It does suggest that Sancho might be better off looking at the latter metric, but it doesn't make the report “laughable.” – Bradd Szonye Aug 5 '13 at 2:42

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