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Research presentation

Jakob Nobuoka

Research presentation

Jakob Nobuoka

Senior lecturer

Research subject: Industrial engineering and management

Jakob Nobuoka is currently working as a Senior Lecturer at University of Gävle. In autumn 2011 he started as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the European Institute of Japanese Studies at Stockholm School of Economics.

In 2010 he received a doctoral degree in Human Geography and continued working as a lecturer at Uppsala University. Jakob Nobuoka began studying at Uppsala University in 2000 and entered the PhD-program at the Department of Social and Economic Geography in 2006.



  • Urban Planning and Regional Development
  • Techno-Cultural Convergence and User Innovation
  • Japanese Cultural Economy

In recent decades personalized content has become increasingly important for selling high tech products such as home computers,
mobile telephones and other ICT related consumer goods. Additionally the developments in these industries seem to become increasingly culturized. To attract new customers content such as games and apps needs to follow cultural trends and fads. To manage these developments a techno-cultural convergence together with user friendly approaches are adopted by many companies within the ICT industries. This is clearly manifested in many Japanese consumer goods. After decades of economic stagnation and a more doubtful role as a world distributor of electronic devices, many companies now tries to find its competitiveness through developing consumer friendly high-tech goods.

Japan is therefore an interesting case to study in order to learn more about user innovation. Theoretically the case studies will discuss spaces of interaction between firms and users. For instance the city district of Akihabara forms a creative milieu in the urban landscape that fosters strong consumer cultures. The project contributes to discussions within economic geography on innovation and knowledge creation. So far the discipline has been oriented towards studying processes within firms or in larger regional systems. A large portion of this works have come to analyze and describe inter firm and firm to firm relations and thereby potentially neglects the importance of user innovation for developing sustainable economic organizations.

User innovation

Most people do not see products as limited entities. Instead most products are viewed as parts of a whole or as functioning in relation to other products. For us, as users, an increasing number of products also compile various aesthetic and symbolic values although they also have a function to fulfil. This has led to a merging of the production of technology and the production of culture. The thesis at hand takes its starting point in such processes and asks how it is happening, why it is happening, and what we can learn from it. In particular, the thesis aims to examine the idea of media mix in relation to the Japanese cultural or content industries. The Japanese cultural industries are not only large and growing but heavily characterized by media mix. In short they are industries where a wide range of different media, products and revenue streams are combined in novel ways: e.g. under single unifying brands/cultural markers or on innovative technological and media platforms. The thesis will pay special attention to the role of users in the innovation and industrial processes that underpin this phenomenon.

Published by: Camilla Haglund Page responsible: Gunilla Mårtensson Updated: 2019-12-09
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