Chapter 8: Foreign knowledge transfer in the development of aircraft industry clusters – the case of Chengdu, China
The People’s Republic of China came into being in 1949 and after nearly three decades of self-reliance, Deng Xiaoping emerged as leader following Mao’s death in 1976. It was under Deng’s leadership that China began to jettison the self-reliance policy of the previous 30 years and to make links with the world economy. The pivotal year was 1979, when China began its ‘open-door policy’ based upon a carefully controlled trade and inward investment strategy. This was set within the so-called ‘four modernizations’ focusing on agriculture, industry, education and science/defence. Since then, China has gone through three more decades of enormous economic and industrial development. In many industries, especially those that are labour-intensive, China is the dominant global producer force in low-tech manufacturing, but it is actively moving into areas where technology plays an important role and where labour is not the dominant cost factor. China’s impressive industrial development during the past 30 years has been dependent on the foreign transfer of technology, management skills and other kinds of knowledge. From an adoption perspective, that is, absorb, generate and disperse technological competence, two main types of theories can be identified (Nelson and Pack, 1999): neoclassical ‘accumulation theories’ that focus on the role of physical and capital investments and ‘assimilation’ theories that use more evolutionary views and explicitly stress learning in adapting and operating foreign technologies.
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