Discussing the Translative Adaptation Approach with UK Researchers at Universities and Think Tanks


From Nov. 27 to 31, 2023, a research team from the JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development (JICA Ogata Research Institute) engaged in the “Research Project on Japanese Experience in Industrial Development and Development Cooperation: Analysis of Translative Adaptation Processes” visited the UK to disseminate research findings and strengthen networking with UK researchers in related fields. The participants were Ohno Izumi (senior research advisor, the JICA Ogata Research Institute/professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies), Jin Kimiaki (chief advisor, Quality and Productivity Improvement (Kaizen) Project in South Africa, JICA), Amatsu Kuniaki (resident representative, JICA UK), and Yoonjung Kim (research officer, the JICA Ogata Research Institute).

Introducing translative adaptation

On Nov. 27, the team visited the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, where Ohno gave a presentation on "Policy Learning for Industrial Development and the Role of Development Cooperation: A Perspective from Translative Adaptation" as the first seminar of the Development Leadership Dialogue (DLD) launched by Professor Jonathan Di John and his colleagues in October 2023. Ohno began with an overview of the book,Introducing Foreign Models for Development: Japanese Experience and Cooperation in the Age of New Technology,” published in October 2023, which elaborates on the concept of translative adaptation. She stressed the importance of policy learning for industrial development while sharing case studies on bilateral policy dialogue with developing countries and the support for Kaizen promotion in Africa as attempts to facilitate translative adaptation through development cooperation.

The first seminar of the Development Leadership Dialogue was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

On Nov. 30, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) hosted the "Translative Adaptation and AfCFTA Roundtable" moderated by Dirk William te Verde, director of the International Economic Development (IED) Group and exchanged views with the attendees. Following a book overview by Ohno, Jin gave a presentation on "Strengthening Firm Capabilities in the Context of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation: The Role of Kaizen." He stated that since Kaizen is the result of translative adaptation, it inherently includes participatory tools that can be used to practice translative adaptation. He then pointed out the importance of strengthening firm capability under AfCFTA and explained JICA's Kaizen support in African countries and the Africa Kaizen Initiative.

Researchers pose for a group photo at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

In the Q&A sessions of these seminars, the participants expressed interest in considering the concept of translative adaptation, which originated from cultural anthropology, from the perspective of learning in the context of development, and the usefulness of taking an experimental approach to knowledge transfer rather than sharing blueprints and best practices. Participants shared their interest in the chain reaction of learning that took place in East Asia from the perspective of a possibility of learning spillover potential in the context of the implementation of AfCFTA.

Questions were also raised about what should be considered when implementing learning processes and methods through policy dialogue (e.g., how to select benchmark countries, identification of the comparative advantage of industries, and the criteria for selecting partner countries), as well as action-oriented questions such as how to apply the concept of translative adaptation to development cooperation in Africa. Valuable suggestions were made for future research directions.

Views on trends in international development studies exchanged

In addition, the research team exchanged views with researchers from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex and the Center for Global Development (CGD) Europe on trends in international development studies in a changing world, and visited Professor Kweku Ampiah, who specializes in modern Japanese history and Japanese development cooperation at the University of Leeds. Ampiah chaired a seminar where Ohno gave a lecture on "Japanese Development Cooperation in a Changing World.”

Senior Research Advisor Ohno Izumi of the JICA Ogata Research Institute gives a lecture at the University of Leeds

A meeting with UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office officials also provided a timely opportunity to gather information and exchange views on the White Paper on International Development, which was released on Nov. 28, 2023 by the UK government for the first time in 14 years, including its emphasis on the concept of "locally-led development" and its affinity with translative adaptation.

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