Chapter 10: New Patterns in Knowledge Transfer and Catching Up: Chinese R & D in ICT
10. New patterns in knowledge transfer and catching up: Chinese R&D in ICT Vicky Long and Staffan Laestadius 1. INTRODUCTION After almost three decades of rapid development, Chinese firms, like those of other emerging economies, have increased their global presence. This process has intensified since 2000: Brazilian firms have approached world leadership in natural resource extraction, as have Indian firms in steel and software consulting; Chinese firms have expanded globally in high-tech sectors in addition to exploiting their obvious and expected advantage in labour-intensive, low-cost manufacturing. The mechanisms behind this enormous transformation are far from obvious, but contain elements of classical growth, of catching up and of leapfrogging related to technology learning, as well as of innovation. All these elements have been influenced by globalization, which was not present to the same extent in earlier catching-up processes like those of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. There is considerable historical evidence that latecomers can join the first rank in growth, wealth and technology, as the USA and Germany did in the late 19th century. More recently, we have witnessed the post World War II transition processes of Japan and the ‘first tier’ of Asian Tigers (South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong). In regard to the latter, however, there is a tradition of ambivalence among analysts as to the extent to which these countries experienced standard learning along the product life cycle or whether they represent a real innovative challenge to the incumbent industrial and technological leaders (see Freeman, 1994, 2002;...
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