Director’s Message

The Hitotsubashi University Institute of Innovation Research was established in 1997 as the first organization in Japan to research innovation from the viewpoint of the social sciences. Since then, innovation has grown steadily in importance. Whether it is declining birthrates and ageing populations, energy and environmental problems, weakening international competitiveness, or problems such as the rising cost of social safety nets or the widening gap between rich and poor, our societies are facing multiple challenges. Finding fundamental solutions to these problems seems beyond our grasp if we merely continue with our traditional approach. Contemporary society demands innovation from a variety of perspectives, including technologies, organizations, institutional systems, and social systems.

Innovation is not merely technical innovations. Groundbreaking ideas are acknowledged as innovations only after they have been realized in a form such as products, services, organizations, or systems and accepted by society. Consequently, the process that generates innovations is quite a social process that involves many people.

Our principal research objective is elucidating this process – that is, answering the question, “Why, and in what manner, does innovation occur?”. Many innovations that are breakthroughs, however, including those that cause a rupture from the past, are unique phenomena that occur under considerable uncertainty, and cannot always be explained appropriately through the traditional academic approach. Explaining innovation phenomenon therefore demands the creation of new academic fields. In other words, through the process of pursuing the innovation phenomenon we must produce innovations in our own academic systems. This is the endeavor we will continue in the future.

Just as innovation takes place when individuals can communicate and exchange information openly, development of innovation research requires an open environment as well. To clarify the phenomenon of innovation, researchers around the world must interact vigorously, mobilizing their intellectual capabilities. The Hitotsubashi University Institute of Innovation Research will itself foster such an open, creative venue by becoming the hub for global innovation research in Japan.

Moreover, here at the institute we seek not merely to publish study results – we also want to invigorate innovation by actively applying research results in the locations where innovation is taking place. Therefore, we wish to not only be a hub for innovation research but to also develop as a center where business men and women and researchers can meet and engage in creative interaction and collaboration.

Innovation does not occur when one person acts alone. It requires the meeting of diverse individuals. Whether you are a researcher or someone working in business, we hope you will visit The Institute of Innovation Research, either in person or through this website, as a venue for meeting and discovery.

Director, Institute of Innovation Research  Karube, Masaru