The Role of Thing-Making Cultures in Japan's Manufacturing Industry: Toward Social Robots and Super Smart Society in the Digitalization-Servitization Shift

24 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2022 Last revised: 19 Apr 2022

See all articles by Mateja Kovacic

Mateja Kovacic

Hong Kong Baptist University

Kentaro Watanabe

National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

Date Written: March 11, 2022

Abstract

Despite the homogenizing socio-economic impact of the global economic and technological cultures on the local manufacturing industries, an inquiry into local responses to global shifts discloses cultures of thing-making embedded in the manufacturing processes in the specific sociocultural contexts. In this paper, we discuss the ways that the ideas about manufacturing – which we term ‘the cultures of thing-making’ – are shaping the socio-technical and economic shifts in Japan, specifically the digitalization and servitization shift to which social robotics and AI have been central. We refocus the attention from products including social robots to discourses and ideologies guiding the manufacturing process, and thus the ways the process of manufacturing is encultured and embedded with social values and historicity. We discuss the cultures of monozukuri, kotozukuri, kyōsō and ba through their interactions with the digitalization-servitization shift to elucidate the role of the cultures of thing-making in manufacturing and contribute a new perspective to manufacturing. By showing its multiple implications for the study of the manufacturing industry as well as the emerging digital technologies including social robots and AI, we also address the perception of Japan as a ‘robot kingdom’ and technology-loving nation.

Keywords: Manufacturing cultures, digitalization, servitization, social robots, society 5.0

Suggested Citation

Kovacic, Mateja and Watanabe, Kentaro, The Role of Thing-Making Cultures in Japan's Manufacturing Industry: Toward Social Robots and Super Smart Society in the Digitalization-Servitization Shift (March 11, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4054956 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4054956

Mateja Kovacic (Contact Author)

Hong Kong Baptist University ( email )

5 Hereford Road, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Kentaro Watanabe

National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

6-2-3 Kashiwanoha
Kashiwa, Chiba 277-0882
Japan

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