The Manufacturing Economies in China and Germany: Technology and Process Systems

Friday, 14 February 2014
Regency D (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Jonas Nahm , Massachusetts Institute of Technology , Cambridge, MA
Industrialization has long been understood as a process of imitation, one in which firms in middle-income economies emulate firms in industrialized ones. Through an analysis of wind and solar firms in China and Germany, Jonas Nahm shows that product development in emerging high-technology industries increasingly occurs through collaboration and cross-border learning between firms from both advanced and middle-income economies. Manufacturers in China participate in product innovation through specialization in innovative manufacturing and rapid scale-up, while relying on partnerships with German firms for production equipment and components with high degrees of customization. These findings ask us to rethink traditional notions of technology transfer, as firms in middle-income economies now contribute to multi-directional patterns of learning through advanced capabilities in manufacturing itself.