POLICIES AND PRACTICES IN WELFARE TECHNOLOGIES: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF NORWAY AND JAPAN
Many rich countries experience two opposite demographic trends: a growing number of elderly who will need care over a long period of time – and a decreasing work force of young people. This “gap” represents an economic and organisational challenge, and politicians in many countries expect welfare technologies – especially digital technologies – to contribute to bridging it. In this paper we report from a multi-level study conducted in 2013-14, were we compared the current status of the field in Norway and Japan.
Our findings reveal similarities between the two countries, which are echoed in many other countries: Although government expectations are high, the field of welfare technology is in its infancy, and only rather simple solutions (such as safety alarms) are widely used. However, our findings also highlight key differences in innovation strategies for welfare for the two countries, where Japan seem to be aiming for vertical integration through large corporations’ solutions, while Norway aims for a more open innovation arena, through standardization. We think the two countries have something to learn from each other, but in particular, we recommend them both a more platform-oriented approach.