Coordination & Collaboration at High-Tech Districts in Japan and China

Friday, 3 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
CLM.3.04 (Clement House)
Dennis McNamara, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
How has the technological imperative affected patterns of business-state ties in the ICT sector of East Asian economies? Innovation strategies in East Asia provide a window on the evolution of plan-rational or “coordinated market economies.” The interactive balance of coordination and collaboration in Asian business-state ties appears critical for technological development. Effective implementation of a clear plan depends on co-operation, knowledge flows, and shared interests between state and the corporate sector. The “Beijing Consensus” model of comprehensive state coordination provides an intriguing foil to the Alliance Capitalism pattern of business-state ties in Japan.

The rapid development of high technology electronics in Japan, and now in China has sparked renewed interest in industrial targeting. For instance, a recent OECD report recommends governments foster systems, build institutions, and facilitate co-ordination, particularly in the race for better technology. Innovation is the focus of Ebner’s entrepreneurial state, building on Schumpeter’s seminal insight on the technological imperative and institutional change. Ebner’s thesis highlights the spatial dimension of innovation as a crucial element of industrial policy.

This study moves between knowledge production at coordinating institutions and collaboration in knowledge sharing among firms to upgrade production in the face of global competition. Our goal is to better understand both innovation strategy and evolution of business- state ties in the two societies. Case studies are provided of high-tech districts at Zhongguancun in Beijing and Tsukuba outside Tokyo. I develop a profile of research priorities at epistemic institutions, and their results to tap policy evolution. I match this profile with collaboration among ICT firms in the districts. Collaboration includes associations and their activity, channels of knowledge sharing and knowledge production, and statistics on international collaboration including co-patenting and co-authorship.

What we learn about the structure and content of knowledge flows in turn elucidates efforts to strike an effective balance between coordination and collaboration. An analytic focus on the leading innovation spaces or high-tech districts sheds light not only on the evolution of innovation systems in the two nations, but on the tension between development engine and research enclave in innovation policy. More generally, the study helps clarify coordination in coordinated market economies to better understand the path-dependent trajectory of plan-rational societies responding to the global technological imperative.

References: Ebner, Alexander. 2013. "Cluster Policies and Entrepreneurial States in East Asia." In Clusters and Economic Growth in Asia edited by Sören Eriksson, 1-26. Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar. McNamara, Dennis L. 2009. Business Innovation in Asia: Knowledge and Technology Networks from Japan. New York: Routledge. McNamara, Dennis L. 2015. "Systems and Strategies for Innovation: High-tech Districts in China and South Korea." In Changing East Asian Business Systems, edited by Richard Whitley and Xiaoke Zhang. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Warwick, Ken. 2013. Beyond Industrial Policy: Emerging Issues and New Trends. In OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 2, edited by OECD. Paris: Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Publishing.