Edited by Gustavo Ghidini, Hanns Ullrich and Peter Drahos
Chapter 2: Taobao,WeChat and Xiaomi: how innovation flourishes in China’s ‘fertile land of intellectual property piracy’
Very recently, Chinese companies have started to outpace multinational corporations (MNCs) in advanced research, emerging technologies and trend analyses, and MNCs in China are shifting innovation strategies to align with the Chinese model. How does innovation happen in a nation that for decades has been regarded as the pacemaker of global piracy and intellectual property infringement? What is the social foundation, or the ‘sociology of creative practice’, that drives China’s innovation capacities? This paper argues that piracy, albeit embarrassing, speculative and often harmful, under extreme social conditions leads to great affordability and then abundant accessibility of both foreign and domestic knowledge products. This has enabled young Chinese cybercitizens (or Diaosi) to develop experience with top-quality creative products to an extent that perfection becomes a common expectation from which China’s innovation leaders such as Taobao, WeChat and Xiaomi have to draw their inspirations. Key words China, Diaosi, user innovation, consumer demand, intellectual property piracy
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