Harnessing Women’s Potential as a Soft Engine for Growth – Lessons from Contrasting Trajectories between Finland and Japan for Growing Economies


  • Chihiro Watanabe Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.; International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria
  • Kashif Naveed Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
  • Pekka Neittaanmäki Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland




Gender balance, Gender balance intensity, Women board members, Trilateral co-evolution, Cultural dimension, Self-propagation


Harnessing the vigor of women’s potential is essential for inclusive economic growth in a digital economy moving toward aging society. This can be a soft engine for sustainable growth substitutable for costly hard investment. While there exists explicit evidence of a virtual cycle between economic growth and gender balance improvement, emerging countries cannot afford to overcome the constraints of low income. Given the foregoing, this paper analyzed possible co-evolution between economic growth, gender balance improvement and digital innovation initiated by information and communication technology (ICT) advancement. Using a unique dataset representing the state of gender balance improvement in the function of economic growth and ICT advancement, an empirical numerical analysis of 44 countries was attempted. These countries were classified as emerging, industrialized and with a specific culture. It was found that while industrialized countries, typically Finland, have realized high performance in co-evolution, emerging countries have been constrained by low ICT advancement, and countries with a specific culture have, notwithstanding their high economic level, also been constrained by a traditional male-dominated culture. Japan is a typical case. Based on these findings, lessons from contrasting trajectories between Finland and Japan for emerging countries were analyzed. It is suggested that advancement of ICT, not only quantitatively but also qualitatively in such a way as constructing a self-propagating system, is crucial for emerging countries. A new practical approach for harnessing the potential resources for sustainable growth was thus explored.


Download data is not yet available.


Catalyst, 2005. Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards. http://www.catalyst. org/media/companies-more-women-board-directors-experience-higher-financial-performance- accoeding-latest/ Retrieved 11 March 2017.
European Commission (EC), 2017. 2017 Report on Equality between Women and Men in the EU, EC, Brussel.
FINNCHAM, 2016. The Sixth Women Directors and Executives Report 2016 - Women Directors on the Rise: Executive Positions Still Going to Men. HINNCHAM, Helsinki.
GMI Ratings, 2013. 2013 Women on Boards Survey. GMI Ratings, New York.
Hofstede, G., 1991. Cultures and Organizations. McGraw-Hill International, London. International Labour Organization (ILO), 2015. Women in Businesses and Management: Gaining Momentum. ILO, Geneva.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 2014. World Telecommunication Indicators Database. ITU, Geneva.
Jia, M. and Zhang, Z., 2013. Critical Mass of Women on BODs, Multiple Identities, and Corporate
Philanthropic Disaster Response: Evidence from Privacy Owned Chinese Firms. Journal of Business Ethics, 118 (2), 303-317.
Kim, H., 2015. How is South Korea Closing the Gender Gap? World Economic Forum. http://www. weforum.org/agenda/2015/3qa-how-is-south-korea-closing-the-gender-gap Retrieved 7 April 2017.
McKinsey & Company, 2007. Women Matter 2007: Gender Diversity, a Corporate Performance Driver. McKinsey & Company, New York.
McKinsey & Company, 2016. Women Matter 2016: Reinventing the Workplace to Unlock the Potential of Gender Diversity. McKinsey & Company, New York.
Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan (MHLW), 2013. Health, Labor and Welfare White Paper in Japan. MHLW, Tokyo.
MSCI, 2015. Global Trends in Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards. Women on Boards, November 2015, 1-31.
Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 2017. Why Firms with Many Women Board Members Perform Better? February 4, 2017.
OECD, 2014. Women, Government and Policy Making in OECD Countries: Fostering Diversity for Inclusive Growth, OECD, Paris.
OECD, 2016. Background Report: Conference on Improving Women’s Access to Leadership. OECD, Paris.
UNDP, 2010. Promoting an Economic and Legal Environment for Women’s Empowerment, Speech by Helen Clark, http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/speeches/ 2010/03/25/promoting-an-economic-andlegal-environment-for-womens-empowerment-. html UN Women (2015), Collective Failure of Leadership on Progress
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Institute of Statistics, 2014. Women in Science. http://www.uis.unesco.org/_LAYOUTS/UNESCO/women-in-science/ index.html#!lang=en
UNWomen, 2015. Collective Failure of Leadership on Progress for Women. Media Release. http//www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/3/collective-failure-of-leadership-on-progress- for-women Retrieved 7 April 2017.
Watanabe, C., Kondo, R., Ouchi, N., Wei, H. and Griffy-Brown, C., 2004. Institutional Elasticity as a Significant Driver of IT Functionality Development. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 71 (7), 723-750.
Watanabe, C., Lei, S. and Ouchi, N., 2009. Fusing Indigenous Technology Development and Market Learning for Greater Functionality Development: An Empirical Analysis of the Growth Trajectory of Canon Printers. Technovation, 29 (2), 265-283.
Watanabe, C., Naveed, K. and Neittaanmäki, P., 2016. Co-evolution of Three Mega-trends Natures Un-captured GDP: Uber’s Ride-sharing Revolution. Technology in Society, 46, 164-185.
Watanabe, C., Naveed, K. and Neittaanmäki, P., 2017a. Consolidated Challenge to Social Demand for Resilient Platforms: Lessons from Uber’s Global Expansion. Technology in Society, 48, 33- 53. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2016.10.006.
Watanabe, C., Naveed, K. and Neittaanmäki, P., 2017b. Co-evolution between Trust in Teachers and Higher Education toward Digitally-rich Learning Environments. Technology in Society, 48, 70-96.
World Economic Forum (WEF), 2016. The Global Gender Gap Report 2016. WEF, Geneva.


How to Cite

Chihiro Watanabe, Kashif Naveed, & Pekka Neittaanmäki. (2017). Harnessing Women’s Potential as a Soft Engine for Growth – Lessons from Contrasting Trajectories between Finland and Japan for Growing Economies . Journal of Technology Management for Growing Economies, 8(1), 67–92. https://doi.org/10.15415/jtmge.2017.81003




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>