Technological innovation from imitation in latecomer firms: evidence from China’s auto firms

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Ke Xu


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2013)


Despite the significant research progress in the field of technological innovation relevant to developing countries, there is little literature concerning China’s auto sector, which is now the largest automotive production and sales market in the world. The main purpose of this paper is to describe the firm-level process from imitation to innovation of indigenous auto firms in China, trying to generalize a hybrid model of technological innovation. Through a multi-case study, some findings are concluded: Chinese auto firms don’t follow the catching-up models happened in other newly-industrializing economies (NIEs); two main differences exist between China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private companies which showed on technological efforts and achievements; and these prove that learning is an important factor to achieve technological catching-up.

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