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Global Free Market of Knowledge Created Through Blendipity

Masataka Ota
Professor, Faculty of Commerce, Waseda University

This autumn, Waseda University launched WASEDA NEO on the fifth floor of COREDO Nihonbashi. In the current globalization that sometimes fererred to as VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity), WASEDA NEO is a leading-edge human capital training platform to lead the global environment of the 21st century. As the name suggests, the concept behind WASEDA NEO is the idea of a new Waseda that precedes the competition in tackling the various challenges facing global societies, as well as the Nihonbashi Educational Outreach (NEO), which freely and openly transmits creative and value-delivering ideas to the world from Nihonbashi. The aim is to provide cutting-edge, high quality non-degree programs while combining “stimulus of knowledge,” “networking of knowledge,” and “fusion of knowledge” to create a “time and space” that can be shared with various stakeholders to respond to society’s needs in real time. Specific details of the program are available on the web (http://wasedaneo.jp). In this article, I want to explain why such a program is currently needed from the perspective of three new trends in human capital training.

The First New Trend in Human Capital Training: Social Innovation Created Through Blendipity

The most important mission of WASEDA NEO is to collaboratively develop high quality non-degree programs that go beyond the boundaries of countries and cultures, by directly fusing together society’s ever-changing needs with the academic assets accumulated at Waseda University. Social innovation is created by cultivating a sense of serendipity between the companies and people that gather at WASEDA NEO. A keen sense of serendipity is crucial for global societies. Among people in a familiar, local environment, it is possible to prevent situations where opportunities are missed. However, when encountering unknown partners whose location in the world is unknown, one’s sphere of movement widens to a great degree, increasing the risks of missed opportunities. To deal with this inconvenient reality that is a side effect of globalization, there is a demand for universities, which stand in the social position of fairness, to provide a high quality global network that transcends time and space. Based on this vision, by blending serendipity, WASEDA NEO coined the concept of “Blendipity,” and made it their core philosophy.

The Second New Trend in Human Capital Training: Pursuing the Ability to Cope with an Aging Society Through a Borderless Approach

In the recently published work by Professor Lynda Gratton of the London Business School titled The 100 Year Life, the author states that one of the biggest challenges facing global societies in the 21st century is the change in lifestyles and work styles of individuals brought upon by longevity. This issue is fundamentally different from the problem of old age with regards to how people who reach compulsory retirement age spend their remaining years. This is because it is a global issue that transcends time and space, which will greatly impact societal roles of the next generation of senior citizens (who are the current population of those in the prime of their life) and their children. Top global institutions that WASEDA NEO holds exchanges with, including the University of Oxford, Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania), IMD, and MIT are taking the lead in these issues by developing large frameworks referred to as the Future of Work. If WASEDA NEO, which specializes in non-degree programs, collaborates with the top academic institutions of the world and actively engages in developing the Future of Work, we can begin to put a scalpel to the root causes in Japanese society that makes it impossible for Japanese corporations to maintain productivity without working conditions that demand long working hours.

The Third New Trend in Human Capital Training: Development of International Open Programs Through Collaboration with Top Business Schools

At the Global Free Market of Knowledge, which is developed by WASEDA NEO, all areas of expertise in Waseda University will have some connection, but with regards to the actual problem itself, the business domain will bear the burden of promoting the idea during the beginning stages. Today, the frontlines of human capital training that the world’s top business schools are aiming at is a collaborative management of executive programs that go beyond the boundaries of countries and cultures based on a strategic partnership with competitive overseas business schools. Today’s global corporations are not operating based on the mechanics of the simple concepts of globalization that were the dominant creed of the 20th century. In fact, they are implementing a complex method of global development that goes beyond the boundaries of each country by pursuing the power of the diverse overseas market, such as regional abilities to attract customers and competitive local practices and commodities. WASEDA NEO has also developed collaborative programs with the world’s top business schools to strengthen co-creation spaces where future-minded business people can pursue innovation. An effective option for this is not custom programs that are designed for specific companies for internal training, but an open program where participants from various backgrounds gather. The benefits of this are not only for the participants who learn skills and mindsets in a relatively short curriculum of a few days, but also for business schools that, with an increased degree of freedom, are able to develop challenging curricula. In the open program planned and operated by WASEDA NEO titled “Global Resilient Leadership Program (see http://grlp.nissan-zaidan.or.jp/ for reference), which was requested by Carlos Ghosn and Toshiyuki Shiga, some of the world’s top business schools such as Wharton School and IMD work in innovative collaboration with Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.

Continuing to Answer the Demands of the Times with a Progressive Enterprising Spirit

The 20th century globalization was led by developed nations of the West. On the other hand, we are experiencing a paradigm shift in which emerging nations and the BRICS play a bigger role in the 21st century globalization. In addition, as more people live to 100 years old, it becomes clear that the societal role of universities is not limited to people of a certain age group served by undergraduate and graduate schools (around 18 to 30 years old). Japan is now in an era where educational programs for all generations (such as those developed in western universities over the years under the titles of “extension schools” and “continuing education”) are seriously being sought out. We now live in an age where people seek intellectual stimulation, and lifetime learning is considered crucial.

Masataka Ota
Professor, Faculty of Commerce, Waseda University

Masataka Ota is the Managing Director of WASEDA NEO, the Dean of Waseda Social and Educational Outreach, and the head of the Waseda Extension Center. He is a professor in the Faculty of Commerce at Waseda University. He has a Ph.D. in commercial science, and is an expert in international business and cross-cultural management. He is also in charge of planning and operating the Global Resilient Leadership Program, a program held in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and IMD, with lectures given by Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. He graduated from the School of Commerce and earned his doctorate from the Graduate School of Commerce at Waseda University. He has served as the chairperson of the Academy of International Business, Japan Region; executive director of Japan Academy of International Business Studies; Chairman of the Business School Accreditation Committee and the Standards Committee of the Japan University Accreditation Association; the executive director of The Union of National Economic Associations in Japan; a visiting researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; visiting professor at IMD, visiting researcher at University of Cambridge; the Dean of Waseda University Graduate School of Commerce Waseda University Graduate School of Commerce (including Waseda Business School); and vice-president at Waseda University (in charge of academic and international affairs).
Recent publications include: Carlos Ghosn no Keieiron (Carlos Ghosn’s Management Theory) (Nikkei Publishing, 2017), Bunka wo Koeru Global Leadership (Global Leadership Across Cultures) (Chuokeizai-sha, 2016), Ibunka Management no Riron to Jissen (Cross-cultural Management: Theories and Practices) (Dobunkan-Shuppan, 2016), India Way: Hiyaku no Keiei (India Way: Management in Leaps) (Eiji Press, 2011), Kokusai Business Nyumon (Essential International Business) (Chuokeizai-sha, 2009), and Takokusekikigyo to Ibunka Management (Multinational Corporations and Cross-cultural Management) (Dobunkan-Shuppan, 2008)