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CIRCLE, Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy, Lund University Papers in Innovation Studies, CIRCLE, Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy, Lund University

No 2016/29:
Transplanting clean-tech paths from elsewhere: The emergence of the Chinese solar PV industry

Christian Binz () and Laura Diaz Anadon ()

Abstract: New clean-tech industries emerge in increasingly complex spatial patterns that challenge existing explanations on industrial path creation. In particular, the case of latecomer regions quickly building up industries in fields that are unrelated to their previous industrial capabilities is not well understood in the literature. This paper aims to address this gap with an analytical framework that draws on technological innovation system and catching-up literatures to specify the place-specific and extra-regional system resources that firms in latecomer regions draw on in the industry formation process. An in-depth case study of the Chinese solar photovoltaics (PV) sector reveals an industry formation process that differs from existing models. Rather than depending on linkages with multinational companies, extensive policy support, or gradual recombination of pre-existing domestic capabilities, early industry formation in the Chinese solar PV sector emerged from path transplantation in a highly internationalized entrepreneurial project. Pioneering actors mobilized knowledge, markets, investment and technology legitimacy developing outside China and re-combined them with the country’s generic capabilities in export-oriented mass manufacturing. This implies that in some industries, globalization may enable a new model of industrial path creation based on bridging domestic resource gaps by directly mobilizing system resources emerging in the international networks of a global innovation system.

Keywords: cleantech; path creation; technological innovation system; solar photovoltaics; China; transnational entrepreneurship; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: F64; O33; Q55; (follow links to similar papers)

48 pages, November 5, 2016

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