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Expectations and realities in welfare technologies: A comparative study of Japan and Norway

Bendik Bygstad (Department of Informatics, Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo, Norway)
Gjermund Lanestedt (Agenda Kaupang AS, Stabekk, Norway)

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 15 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to add knowledge on the status of the welfare technology field. Politicians in mature economies expect welfare technologies – especially digital technologies – to contribute to bridging the gap between an increasing number of elderly and a shrinking work force. Theoretically, the paper deals with welfare technologies in a digital infrastructure perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

A multilevel and comparative study was conducted to understand the interplay of high-level policies and implementation projects and highlight key issues through comparative analysis of different national approaches. Japan and Norway were the chosen countries because they are both in the forefront in the use of welfare technologies.

Findings

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 still in its infancy and only rather simple solutions (such as safety alarms) are widely used. Key differences in innovation strategies for welfare technology in the two countries are highlighted, where Japan seem to be aiming for a vertical integration through large corporations’ solutions, whereas Norway aims for a more open innovation arena through standardization.

Originality/value

From a practical point of view, the two countries have something to learn from each other, but, in particular, both countries are recommended – together with other similar countries – a more platform-oriented approach. Theoretically, it is shown that a successful implementation of welfare technologies should adopt a digital infrastructure approach and exploit the generative mechanisms of this approach.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

We thank all our informants in Norway and Japan. The research was supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care and by Innovation Norway.

Citation

Bygstad, B. and Lanestedt, G. (2017), "Expectations and realities in welfare technologies: A comparative study of Japan and Norway", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 286-303. https://doi.org/10.1108/TG-09-2016-0057

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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