Kathryn Ibata-Arens

Vincent de Paul Professor and Director, Political Science and Global Asian StudiesDePaul University


Kathryn Ibata-Arens is Vincent de Paul Professor and Director of the Global Asian Studies Program, DePaul University. Her scholarly work focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship in Asia, science and technology policy, women’s economic empowerment, and inclusive innovation. Ibata-Arens’ recent research explores technology leadership, innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem development in biomedical industries in Asia. Her book, Beyond Technonationalism: Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Asia (Stanford University Press 2019) analyzes national policy and firm level strategy in China, India, Japan, and Singapore. From 2012 to 2013 she served on the METI-State Department Japan-US Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Japan-America Society of Chicago and as a member of the U.S.-Japan Council. Previous research, utilizing social network analysis and GIS methodologies, examines emerging life science (biotechnology and medical devices) regions in Japan and the United States. In 2012, Ibata-Arens was a visiting researcher at the Research Center for Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI, Tokyo), Ritsumeikan University Research Center for Innovation Management (Kyoto) (2011-2012), and as a Fulbright Fellow at Kyoto University (2010). In 2008, Ibata-Arens was a Japan Policy Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC and received a Sloan Foundation Industry Studies Grant for her work on national entrepreneurship and innovation policy. Her dissertation research was conducted at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) at the University of Tokyo as a Fulbright Doctoral Fellow. Ibata-Arens’ previous book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Japan: Politics, Organizations and High Technology Firms (Cambridge University Press, 2005) analyzes leading high technology firms and regional economies in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. She received a BA in international relations from Loyola University Chicago and a PhD in political economy from Northwestern University.

Specialties: innovation and entrepreneurship strategy, economic development, policy analysis, high technology, biomedical and life science entrepreneurship, Japan, Asia, entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2004

Assistant Professor, International Relations, Political ScienceDePaul University

The Local Political Economy of Innovation in Japan and the United States: A New Policy Model?

This project examines spatial, institutional and human interstices in successful policies supporting (new product, new business) innovation at the local level. I propose a comparative study of how embedded enterprise (how economic activity is embedded in certain socio-political milieu or "habitats" ) and civic entrepreneurship (business leaders having a keen sense of "giving back" to local communities for mutual long term gain) impact firm and community level innovation in Japan's Kansai region and the American Midwest. I employ a multi-method approach, using both quantitative and qualitative measures. Data will be collected using surveys and semi-structured interviews with firm owner-managers, government officials and civic leaders. The survey is complemented by case study analysis of high tech (IT, bio) entrepreneurial firms in St. Louis and Kyoto. Qualitative measures include local (district), city, regional and national economic development policies; grassroots activities; and sociograms. Quantitative measures include industrial mapping (e.g., composition, concentration), capital investment and trade statistics.