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The acquisition of technological capabilities by large Chinese industrial companies : between catch-up and engagement in emerging technologies

Abstract : Among the world’s 500 largest firms, one out of five is Chinese. In 2014, 94 Chinese firms were among the world leaders in R&D. Since 2016, China is the first acquirer of foreign firms and is now targeting high-technology firms.These recent developments raise questions about the technological positioning of Chinese firms. Studying this topic requires looking at their conditions of emergence. We can look at China’s development from the perspective of the technological catch-up model (Kim, 1997). China has gone through three phases: a phase of acquisition of foreign technology following the country’s opening in 1978, a period of technological assimilation and production of increasingly complex products, and a period of technological integration characterized by technological improvement and the reconfiguration of existing technologies.The hypothesis we make is that firms are now in the last phase of catch-up, and have entered a period of transition to technology leadership. This leads to two questions. What is Chinese innovation today? This topic broadly refers to innovation in emerging countries. How far are Chinese firms from reaching the technological frontier?We observe the transition through the way major Chinese firms engage in research. The integration of emerging technologies into their research strategies reflect dynamics of technological learning which, if they are not yet visible in the market, indicate a transition. Our results show that the trend is significant, with half of large firms (48%) engaging in nanotechnology research. This proportion indicates that Chinese firms have reached the technological frontier. This, however, does not mean that Chinese firms have reached the frontier in other dimensions, such as the organizational dimension. We also show that there are several modalities of commitment to research. While some large Chine firms engage in research by adopting a model similar to that of American or European firms, other dynamics are at work, which reflect, in particular, their historical legacy, and the impact of their localization.To obtain these results, we have built a unique database of 325 large industrial enterprises, and have looked at their patenting activities in nanotechnology, directly or through their subsidiaries, based on the exploitation of sources in English and Chinese.
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Submitted on : Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 10:25:06 AM
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Marina Oulion. The acquisition of technological capabilities by large Chinese industrial companies : between catch-up and engagement in emerging technologies. Economics and Finance. Université Paris-Est, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016PESC0114⟩. ⟨tel-01483966v2⟩



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